Nerd Fights, Inferiority Complexes and Data Analysis

RJ Morris Career Paths, HR, HR & Marketing, Influence, RJ Morris

HR pros, and especially all of us bloggers, will often poke fun at ourselves, teasing about picnic planning, seats at tables and dress codes. I use the technique often in my workplace, making sure that people know that I don’t take myself too seriously.

To a point, that’s ok. There is, however, a fine line between self-effacing humor and an inferiority complex. We have all read articles where an HR person gazes longingly at Finance and Marketing, jealous of their influence and their power. I have also sat in HR conference breakouts with people wondering why finance pros don’t question how to get influence, but HR pros do.

Sociologists, apparently, have the same issues, but their archenemies are economists. Wow, who knew?

Check this article, Why Economists Are Paid So Much, published this week in Bloomberg. The author, an economist, responds to a paper from a sociologist calling economists arrogant and overpaid. Sweet—nerd fight.

Sociologists often feel that economics holds itself out as “dominant” or “supreme” among the social sciences. …the paper, called “The Superiority of Economists,” claims that economics reigns over the social sciences, and that economists are supremely arrogant, insular and hierarchical:

In this essay, we investigate the dominant position of economics within the network of the social sciences in the United States. …Economists also distinguish themselves from other social scientists through their much better material situation (many teach in business schools, have external consulting activities), their more individualist world views, and in the confidence they have in their discipline’s ability to fix the world’s problems. Taken together, these traits constitute what we call the superiority of economists, where economists’ objective supremacy is intimately linked with their subjective sense of authority and entitlement. …it has also exposed them more to conflicts of interests, political critique, even derision.

The author of the article (not the research paper) then pretty much lays down a bucketful of smack on the inferiority-complex riddled sociologist. His argument is that economists get paid so much because they deserve it. Heck, yes. ‘Merica.

But why do economists have the option to go work in consulting and finance? The answer is simple: They have the technical skills to do so…. If sociologists want to crack this bastion of economists’ “superiority,” they need to tech up with statistics… All it will require is for sociologists to learn a lot more advanced statistics, and the data management and coding skills that go with it. The best way to make that happen is to start using a lot more sophisticated statistics in sociology papers… Sociologists, someday you too will be able to command high salaries and send your surplus doctoral students to lucrative careers in consulting, finance and data science. It’s time to stop whining and tech up.

Game, set, match folks. Get better technically. Do more sophisticated analysis. Be in demand. Sounds like a lot of the same advice we have been offering here at FOT for years. I found it very interesting that HR pros are not the only ones trying to find themselves.