Flutterby™! : The nature of institutions

Next unread comment / Catchup all unread comments User Account Info | Logout | XML/Pilot/etc versions | Long version (with comments) | Weblog archives | Site Map | | Browse Topics

The nature of institutions

2010-04-21 05:43:29.042752+00 by Dan Lyke 3 comments

I've been looking for the words to express this for years: This post over at The Technium contained this QOTD:

"Institutions will try to preserve the problem to which they are the solution." -- Clay Shirky

[ related topics: Quotes ]

comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment Re: made: 2010-04-21 13:59:52.860242+00 by: meuon

Summed up better then I've ever seen it. This goes for standards organizations, governments, non-profits, radio talk show hosts.... just about everything.

#Comment Re: made: 2010-04-21 15:56:20.108795+00 by: ebradway

The funny thing is that this principle applies at both the micro and macro levels in government. At the micro level, individual civil servants tend to focus on job security - making sure the tasks for which they are hired never seem to go away. At the macro level, organizations (like TVA) work the political system to ensure their continued existence long after the problem they were created to solve no longer exists.

The terrorist attacks of 9/11/2001 gave the government an easy basis for problem preservation. There can be no end to the "War on Terrorism" because their is no defined enemy in the war. Whoever the government decides to vilify next is the enemy. And problems can be escalated because 9/11 happened because of a policy loophole that "should have been closed". So any problem can be approached from the position of "we have to cover all eventualities because we can't let 9/11 happen again." An endless war with infinite fronts. I sure wish I could get that kind of job security.

#Comment Re: made: 2010-04-27 22:02:56.896566+00 by: Medley

There's nothing special about government here. Companies too. Whether one likes to think in terms of conspiracy theories or not, companies will work to preserve markets (and spend enormous amounts of lobbying dollars to do so if they can't do through advertising or other coercive but non-regulatory strategies), even if those markets are known to be suboptimal on a macro level. Combustion engines, expensive medical procedures over cheaper preventative care, chronic care pharmaceuticals over investments in cure, and on and on.