Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
...I was involved in software and hardware procurement in Portugal (mostly public sector).

It would be easy to say that the system saddled with corruption. I could write countless stories. Interestingly most corruption is not at the higher levels, but at the middle and low levels: the consultant that can only influence but clearly has an hidden agenda. The secretary that is responsible to send out request for budgets for material which sends it in a way that only a certain one can respond, and so forth... Mostly impossible to prove, of course. And even if it was possible to prove, the justice system would takes many years, anyway.

It was impressive how many deals would pan out as the worse possible for the purchasing institution. Indeed, I left IT in Portugal mostly because I could not stand this anymore. Probably the most important (and best) decision in my life (going to science).

That being said there is also this firm belief that free software is no good. And it makes sense: for people that never give anything, for people that have little pride and professionalism in their work it is difficult to envision a world where giving and ethics can work.

Furthermore some people are dumb: they fail to see that business models can be developed around giving away the product and selling services. Indeed they are uber dumb: most closed source companies make much money from the services that they sell later (thus, this is even a model used by closed source - just ask Oracle...).

Yes, there is corruption. But do not forget stupidity.

by cagatacos on Tue Dec 6th, 2011 at 07:46:08 AM EST
Corruption and stupidity go together well. Sprinkle them into an hierarchy of ability and integrity and you can quickly get institutional incompetence -- where an organization composed largely of able and well intended individuals is non-the-less incapable of properly performing its intended function.

In the case of LAUSD careerism was a relatively benign factor that had malignant consequences. In LAUSD someone with a principal's certificate and at least one successful appointment as an assistant principal, provided they avoided scandal and outright criminality - for the most part - was impossible to dismiss. This was a consequence of the existence of the Principals' Union, which existed to prevent arbitrary treatment of its members. This led to the unofficial dogma that a principal's certificate was a qualification for any position in the administrative hierarchy, including Architecture and Engineering.

Combine careerism with personal loyalty - principals and loyal assistant principals often rose together, as loyalty was personal. It was not unusual to see very interesting situations, such as a ham radio enthusiast and former electronics shop teacher first becoming head of the Information Technology Division and then, despite have no construction experience beyond remodeling one of his own bathrooms, being put in charge of the construction of a new high school located over an old oil field just north of downtown LA.

Another example was a lady physical education instructor with a principal's certificate being appointed to be head of Architecture and Engineering. I could see how skills in getting teenage girls to do things they did not want to do could be turned to getting architects and engineers to do things they did not want to do, except that some of those things involved their judgements as licensed professional engineers and architects and often were a very bad idea.  

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue Dec 6th, 2011 at 12:02:04 PM EST
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I'm pretty much on the same page. I just emigrated to a different place... I prefer not to use such concluding wording, but essentially that's more or less where I want to get.

I'd just add that "stupidity" - lack of vision, pure ignorance - mostly plagues the top branches of the hierarchy, making it easier (and cheaper) for the multinationals to corrupt middle tier technicians. A famous IT professor openly states to his audiences that institution leaders in Portugal are the least knowledgeable on the matter in Europe. It is very easy to convince someone that the most expensive product is the absolute best, something also common to the third world.

How institutions came to be leaded by such people is another question, and a deep one.


by Luis de Sousa (luis[dot]de[dot]sousa[at]protonmail[dot]ch) on Tue Dec 6th, 2011 at 04:40:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If advancement to a certain level requires an ability to work without being encumbered by an instinct of workmanship, then advancement to that level is strongly biased against those with the capacity to recognize what a high level of workmanship in that field entails.

And one way that advancement to a certain level may require an ability to work without being encumbered by an instinct of workmanship is if one must enthusiastically and loyally carry out the agenda of a higher up who is similarly unencumbered ... so it is to a certain degree a self-perpetuating system.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Wed Dec 7th, 2011 at 11:44:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]