Daniel Lemire's blog

, 3 min read

Large well-funded laboratories…

4 thoughts on “Large well-funded laboratories…”

  1. Large projects are less efficient. It is hard to avoid as they get a lot of free riders.

    Unfortunately, certain projects can’t be executed by small teams, or small companies.

  2. @Leonid

    I do not think that large teams are intrinsically less efficient. For example, McDonald’s is a lot better at making burgers than a small restaurant might be. Walmart is crazily efficient compared to an family store.

    If you think about it, large laboratories do enjoy tremendous benefits. They should be a lot more productive. What happens is that there are specific mechanisms that counteract this increase in productivity.

  3. @Daniel,

    this is right! It is possible to achieve economies of scale, when you deal with simple repetitive tasks.

    Research isn’t one of such tasks. Oftentimes, people are working on problems that never appeared before.

    To build a building, you generally know what to do. There is a methodology, building code, etc… Intellectual activity is unpredictable and projects are always well over the budget.

    So, in a large team, it is always possible to find excuses not to work. Worse, you may not even notice that you work slowly and inefficiently, because there is no baseline.

  4. Jordan says:

    It honestly doesn’t surprise me that smaller labs or teams are more efficient! The bigger, well-funded stuff probably tends to get bogged down in bureaucracy, and the amount of people handling things probably leads to a lot of confusion about who does what.