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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Voting your preferences in faculty governance contexts

Say your faculty has only one appointment slot to fill and you see six candidates for call-backs.  Imagine that five of the candidates are appointment-worthy but you can only afford to pay one of them because of budget constraints, so the faculty must order its preferences for extending the one offer you have to give.  How does your faculty aggregate its votes?  Have you considered this question recently?  I'd be curious what other faculties do: Do you use a "Borda count," essentially having all candidates rank each option and award points accordingly (with the lowest point total being the favorite who gets the offer first)?  Do you use a system calibrated to assess preference intensity, like a cumulative voting system, so that the dean knows just how much of the farm to give away to the top choice before going to the second best?  Do you use a Condorcet voting system?  Each of these systems furnishes slightly different sorts of information and has different pathologies, so the context matters, of course.  But I wonder if your faculty gives the voting system much thought and what they've come up with to deal with these scenarios.  Is the faculty explained the system in use so that they understand carefully how strategic voting may or may not impact the ultimate decision made and how the aggregation mechanism may be conveying somewhat different information than the simple view that all these methods clearly pick out "the faculty's favorite candidate" all the time?

Posted by Ethan Leib on November 18, 2009 at 11:29 PM | Permalink


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