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One form of rent-seeking that is prevalent in the political sphere is interest groups lobbying for subsidies. A subsidy is a sum of money or a  tax-deduction provided to a specific industry as a form of financial support. The agricultural sector is well known for having subsidies to incentive the production of specific varieties of produce. One common example is subsidies to corn producers.

One form of rent-seeking that everyone has witnessed is workplace rent-seeking. This is where an employee attempts to avoid work or embellish their value to the company. On a team meeting yesterday, it dawned on me the subsidy phenomenon happens at work as well.  I overheard a co-work with ten-years’ worth of experience complaining about their workload. This individual effectively reduced their workload through this publicly kvetching about how they were overwhelmed.

It came to me as clear as day, the Workplace Subsidy, the newest edition to the theory of workplace rent-seeking. It can be best defined as an employee seeking unjustified bonuses or unjustified relief from their workload.

4 thoughts on “Workplace Subsidies

  1. An interesting application of rent-seeking to the workplace/office environment. I’ve certainly witnessed this phenomenon before, though I haven’t thought of it in those terms.

    Of course, there ARE employees who are overworked, often because other employees are engaged in this rent-seeking/subsidization. Do you think that’s the case with your colleague? Was his “kvetching” justified?

    I would also argue that ten years of experience does add some value to the company in the form of institutional knowledge. Your colleague could have “earned” the privilege of a lighter workload as younger, more energetic workers enter the company, or some of his more routine tasks could be delegated to less experienced employees, freeing him up for more important work.

    I don’t know this person, of course, and based on your post, he sounds like he is attempting to unfairly lighten his load. That said, I can see legitimate instances where an experienced employee could truly be overwhelmed (it’s happened to me!). Years of service mean that duties accrue almost organically to a capable hand, to the point that a small handful of employees are carrying the workloads of many others in addition to their own. That’s especially true in small organizations.

    Great post. Very thought-provoking!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you for your response. To be honest I was thinking more in hypotheticals than solid facts. I was bored. I decided to entertain myself with my love of Public Choice Theory. All of these Zoom meetings are tiresome.

      Hearing this individual complain inspired this novel application of rent-seeking. Whether or not it was justify is difficult to ascertain.

      Thank you fir your kind feedback. I had a lot of fun formulating this concept.

      Liked by 1 person

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