On the Wisdom of a Job Market Candidate Wiki

I wrote last year about EJMR’s foray into the world of journals and article publications and thought the idea was pretty neat. Having a repository for information on journal publishing times, response times, decisions and more, all crowd-sourced, could provide a useful set of information for would-be submitters to certain journals. In theory, if the information were correct, it could even prompt users to avoid journals with slow response times, which would in turn encourage those journals to step it up.

Transparency’s kind of cool.

I was less enthusiastic about EJMR’s Candidate wiki but EJMR keeps surprising me. One of the things that Economics prides itself on as a discipline is our centralized (read: “we’re so efficient”) job market. Ads come out in the JOE the first every month. In January, we hold our national conference and search committees hold interviews with candidate who made their shortlist. Flyouts happen in January, February and into March, hiring completed by early Spring.

In reality, it doesn’t happen this way for many candidates. There are other sources of job advertisements for one. But more than this, the last few years have seen a lot of bottlenecking at the top of the candidate pool. “Star” candidates get tens of flyouts and offers for jobs they don’t intend to take, but keep those schools waiting and thus the market clears very slowly. In addition, the uptake in web-based application systems has proliferated, making applying both relatively easy–once you’ve done the work of setting up an account and uploading–and extremely annoying–as you’re setting up your fifteen millionth account. It’s this really weird mix of efficient and entirely the opposite and likely skews the number of jobs people apply to.

Given our obsession with efficiency, I’m not surprised to see EJMR get into the job candidate wiki game. One poster took the entirely predictable economicky defense: “I’m pretty sure a reduction is search costs is welfare-enhancing in virtually all matching models, from micro theory to macro-labor,” but plenty of others were worried about the potential for sabotage. EJMR doesn’t have the greatest reputation, but I wonder if this is part of trying to make itself a little more legit. I can definitely see the appeal from the demand side of having a number of top candidates in place. Since it’s a wiki, it’s never going to capture anyone, but a lot of the top schools seem to have candidates posted and it will likely grow. I’m interested to see where it goes.

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Author: ekfletch

I am an independent researcher on issues of gender, labor, violence, education, and children.

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