Het boek Parkinson's Law van de econoom C. Northcote Parkinson, stamt van
1958, dus van voor alle hypes over management en besturen. Het hier voor
ons relevante hoofdstuk heeft de titel The Short List, de Engelse
algemenere term voor die kleine groep kandidaten die in de laatste stap van een
procedure van selectie wordt toegelaten. Eerst wat inleidende stukken om de
sfeer te schetsen:
Toelichting bij Alfa's en bèta, sociologisch: Parkison's Law
A problem constantly before the modem administration whether
in government or business, is that of personnel selection. ...
Past methods, not entirely discussed, fall into two main
categories, the British and the Chinese. Both deserve careful consideration, if
only for the reason that they were obviously more successful than any method now
considered fashionable. The British method (old pattern) depended upon an
interview in which the candidate had to establish his identity. He would be
confronted by elderly gentlemen seated round a mahogany table who would
presently ask him his name. Let us suppose that the candidate replied 'John
Seymour.' One of the gentlemen would then say, 'Any relation of the Duke of
Somerset?' To this the candidate would say, quite possibly, 'No, sir.' Then
another gentleman would say, 'Perhaps you are related in that case, to the
Bishop of Watminster?' If he said 'No, sir' again, a third would ask in despair,
'To whom then are you related?' ...
Enzovoort. Gelukkig kwam er de "Engelse methode, nieuwe versie":
The British method (new pattern) was evolved in the late
nineteenth century as something more suitable for a democratic country. The
Selection Committee would ask briskly, 'What school were you at?' and would be
told Harrow, Haileybury, or Rugby, as the case might be. 'What games do you
play?' would be the next and invariable question. A promising candidate would
reply, 'I have played tennis for England, cricket for Yorkshire, rugby for the
Harlequins, and fives for Winchester.' ...
Enzovoort. Ook deze methode is nog steeds een standaard in de hedendaagse
praktijk. Maar hier gaat het om deze variant:
The Chinese method (old pattern) was at one time so
extensively copied by other nations that few people realize its Chinese origin.
This is the method of Competitive Written Examination. In China under the Ming
Dynasty the more promising students used to sit for the provincial examination,
held every third year. It lasted three sessions of three days each. During the
first session the candidate wrote three essays and composed a poem of eight
couplets. During the second session be wrote five essays on a classical theme.
During the third, he wrote five essays on the art of government. The successful
candidates (perhaps two percent) then sat for their final examination at the
imperial capital. ...
The effectiveness of this [Chinese] method was investigated
by a committee in 1854, with Macaulay as chairman. The result was that the
system of competitive examination was introduced into the Civil Service in 1855.
... All these features were faithfully incorporated in the Trevelyan-Northcote
Report and thereafter in the system it did so much to create.... It was assumed
(no doubt rightly) that a scientific education would fit a candidate for nothing
- except, possibly, science. It was known, finally, that it is virtually
impossible to find an order of merit among people who have been examined in
different subjects. Since it is impracticable to decide whether one man is
better in geology than another man in physics, it is at least convenient to be
able to rule them both out as useless.
When all candidates alike have to write Greek or Latin
verse, it is relatively easy to decide which verse is the best.
Hetgeen de redactie doet denken aan het slot van Roman Polanski's The
Fearless Vampire Killers
(parafraserend) "Dat is de reden dat het kwaad zich over de hele wereld
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