----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Steven Smolian" <[log in to unmask]>
> Sionce the Smithsonian is at leat 30% privately funded (which makes for 
> interesting "which pocket" problems when dealing with their financial 
> staff), your suggestion doesn't apply.
> Actually, I see nothing wrong with competing for the best executive for the 
> job in the open marketplace.  Why should a public institution have to settle 
> for lower quality personnel anyway?  Perhaps the issue is in defining "best" 
> for the search committee and having draconian penalties when they violiate 
> it.  The same holds true for the board.
Major problem here!

The private, corporate, for-profit world uses a COMPLETELY different
definition of "the 'best' executive" than does the institutional world!

The goal of an "institution" (public, private or a mixture) is to maximize
the amount of knowledge available in an area...and/or to best impart
that knowledge to its "clients."

The goal of a for-profit operation (aka "corporation") is to maximize
income while minimizing outlay.

So, if the Smithsonian (or a similar operation) sends a fully-funded
expedition to the wilds of Lower Slobbovia, and returns with samples
(or even fossils) of a hitherto-unknown species of tree lizard, the
project is considered a success...regardless of whether the cost of
said expedition will be recovered by increased attendance and
admission charges collection.

OTOH, if there were a "Wal-Mart Museum--pay at the door...!" the
cost of the expedition would have to be justified by a resultant
increase in gross the last cent!

I won't go into how much money has been wasted in the "private
sector" by arrogant, greedy executives (see under: "Enron"...)
but all that does is deprive investors of dividends until the
situation has corrected itself.

OTOH, if a non-profit organization has spent X-gazillion dollars
merely to massage a wannabe-aristocrat's ego...that is money
that WON'T...CAN' spent to further the aims of the body!

The folks in charge of any museum or similar institution SHOULD
be there because they have a strong interest in whatever function
the institution performs (like, I should be in charge of the yet-to-be-
created "Edison-Berliner Institute For Sound Recording"...!).

If they are there simply to add a few more zircons to their ytterbium-
plated nine-door limousine-type SUV...neither the function of the
institution or the budget of the supporting government/other body
will be significantly improved...!

Steven C. Barr