One of four scenarios attempting to answer the question “Why should a research institute exist?”
In this scenario the answer is: To be an institutional monument to preserve jobs and maintain ideals of research in substantial political partnerships.
Scenario axes: erosion of commitment to organisational culture in an unattractive environment with hangers on.
Once upon a time the “Zombie Swamp” research institute might have been a place of excellence, but the evidence is buried in the mud. Regardless, people working there still bask in their past (unsubstantiated) glories and feel entitled to the benefits of a stable job without too many challenges. They have done their bit for research, but now it's time for society to take care of them. In the past they made strategic connections with high ranking politicians and bureaucrats, with whom they still share convoluted handshakes in basements of one or the other secret fraternity. Because of these relationships, the institute's name is still well regarded and there is interest in working and studying there. However, the institute has a high turnover of people who are attracted to their rhetoric, but leave as soon as they realise that in reality the place is just an empty shell. The research they do seems relevant in the short term, but their results have low academic impact and no social impact whatsoever. The leadership is self-absorbed, and everyone's primary goal is self preservation. This results in a climate of conflict, back-stabbing and continuous bickering, disempowering anyone wanting to stand out and challenge the status quo. Even though it is an unpleasant, stagnant place to work, it manages to survive through many economic and cultural crises. It remains, if nothing else, as a monument to what it once was, or could have been.