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El Gordo

Two pieces on this topic. One from Weingast:


and one from Munger:


Marcus Arvan

El Gordo: Thanks for those links! I think they are both great. In fact, each one reminded me of something really important that I somehow forgot when putting this post together.

(1) The second piece emphasizes the importance of handling things in person rather than via email. I completely agree. Emails can come across cold, and lead to unproductive back and forths. Better, in general, to invite people to talk in person. It's more *personable*, and in my experience tends to be much better received and more productive than email.

(2) The first piece emphasizes how emails are equivalent to legal documents. In part for this reason, I was told by my former chair to document everything, particularly conversations, by sending email follow-ups recapping important points.

On the surface, these two "do's" might seem to be in tension. But my experience they're really not. Have discussions in person first. Then simply send a follow up email recapping what was talked about.

This might seem overly formal. But I've been taught (and learned) that it has two really important advantages--one for the chair (and institution), but also a very important advantage to the other parties to the conversation. The advantage to the chair (and institution) is obvious: an email documentation of a conversation is a record of what is said. If there are any disputes later about what was said, everything is on record. However, just as importantly (probably more importantly, I think), recapping a conversation in an email helps to ensure that nothing "gets lost in translation." Oftentimes, a lot gets covered in a conversation--and it can be difficult for the parties to it to remember everything important later. Sending a follow-up email recapping the central points of a conversation ensures that whatever points were made in the conversation are clear after the fact. This can be important for everyone involved, so that there aren't any misunderstandings!


What do you do if you find yourself in a fiefdom situation as a junior person? Grin and bear it?

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