The Duck of Minerva

The Duck Quacks at Twilight

Stuff Political Scientists Like #17: Outside Offers, or Stuff Other Political Scientists Like

October 5, 2012

Political scientists like to complain about how little they are paid, which tends to be irritating to any number of other groups, most notably anyone who has a job other than that of a political scientist and has to be into the office say, before noon.

Part of the reason that political scientists are so poorly compensated for their great contribution to humankind is that they are only rewarded when others from outside their organization value their work. This is because political scientists most like what other political scientists like.

Professor Cumubbins has 10,000 citations this year and a 0/1 load.

In most professions, employees do good work, are seen to be doing so by their superiors, then get a raise. This is because other work spaces have what political scientists call “norms of appropriate behavior.” Outside of political science we simply call this fairness, or more colloquially, “not being a dick.” Whereas the rest of the world walks into their boss’ office and civilly makes the case for greater remuneration, getting a raise in political science is something like nuclear brinksmanship, proceeding through a series of threats and counterthreats. The whole thing is simply far too dramatic for a group of people who can barely dress themselves.

Once a political scientist has an “outside offer” from another university, however, everyone takes notice. Similar dynamics have been observed in love triangles. Kate Hudson has much to teach us about political science. One doesn’t know what one’s got until it is gone.

Professor Stone does not have an outside offer.

Of course, non-political scientists should not apply such a logic to their own personal lives. There has been no documented case of a man whose wife reduced his household chores or increased the frequency of their sexual relations by going and getting a mistress. What is rewarded in political science is regarded in other social settings as extortion. Most people don’t negotiate with terrorists.

Once a political scientist has multiple outside offers, he or she is able to command enormous increases in compensation. This has spawned a particular subspecies of political scientist – the mercenary who is always “on the market.” Generally extinct as a military practice in the advanced industrialized countries, arms for hire is alive and well in the advanced industrialized world where political science flourishes. The mercenary offers his services to the highest bidder. Well, more accurately, he offers his lack of services. If you think that a political scientist with so many outside offers is going to be doing any teaching, you have another thing coming. But you can rent his name for a few years on your website for the bargain of $250,000 a year, research account to be negotiated separately.

+ posts

Rathbun is a professor of International Relations at USC. Brian Rathbun received his Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of California, Berkeley in 2002 and has taught at USC since 2008. He has written four solo-authored books, on humanitarian intervention, multilateral institution building, diplomacy and rationality. His articles have appeared or are forthcoming in International Organization, International Security, World Politics, International Studies Quartlery, the Journal of Politics, Security Studies, the European Journal of International Relations, International Theory, and the Journal of Conflict Resolution among others. He is the recipient of the 2009 USC Parents Association Teaching and Mentoring Award. In 2019 he will be recognized as a Distinguished Scholar by the Diplomatic Studies Section of the International Studies Association.