One of four scenarios attempting to answer the question “Why should a research institute exist?”
In this scenario the answer is: To be a strong community of decent people doing stable, low impact research.
Axes: commitment to organisational culture in an unattractive environment with hangers on.
The “Beer Club” is an insular community of researchers working on long term studies that may never be relevant to anyone except them. The principal hiring criteria are that candidates are “nice”, have good social skills, and have a strong liver. The institute has its own daily rhythm, going back to tea times of the British Empire. They begin with breakfast together, morning tea, lunch, afternoon tea, tea, supper, nightcap … Lunch alone takes over two hours each day, and working hours are 10-17h. In between they attempt to engage in their work: but they invariably encounter a problem, which provides an excuse to explain why they haven't achieved their goals yet. The resources are limited and the institute is plagued by the effects of financial downturns. No incentives are provided for hard workers, and the contracts make it very hard to fire workers who underperform. So why bother? “Next time” is one of the most common themes in the Beer Club, as in: “We could have done that, but … oh well, maybe next time.” The collaborators are all good friends and the relationships are somewhat incestuous. All of them are nice people who make token gestures of placid friendliness to people outside of their Club, but they would prefer for the world to leave them in peace, perhaps on a small island that provides for all of their needs.