Monday, May 23, 2016

CITI Program is not unique in its mortifying stupidity

Writing in Slate, L. V. Anderson condemns simplistic, online training programs that are supposed to encourage regulatory compliance, but really just suck up time and money without improving behavior.

[L. V. Anderson, “Ethics Trainings Are Even Dumber Than You Think,” Slate, May 19, 2016.]

Anderson writes,

Regulators, managers, and employees are caught in a vicious cycle. Regulators pressure companies to implement training programs in hopes of reducing corporate crime and malfeasance. Executives implement training programs in hopes of protecting themselves against lawsuits and prosecution. Employees see through executives’ motivations and ignore, or even rebel against, the lessons of the trainings.

Although there’s not much research one way or the other, the online nature of compliance courses probably exacerbates this vicious cycle.

Anderson does not specifically mention the mortifyingly stupid CITI Program and its cousins in the IRB world, but everything she says applies to them.


Unknown said...

I agree somewhat, but I think the Slate article is talking more about the sort of training my university has decided to require. It's from a group called Workplace Answers, and covers topics such as FERPA, Title IX, Clery Act, bullying, financial conflicts of interest, and so forth. We've been required to complete 9 modules so far this year. The CITI training is much less burdensome than the other courses I have gone through.

Zachary M. Schrag said...

Thanks for this comment.

The problem with the CITI Program is not that it's burdensome. Distinguishing the "correct" multiple choice answer from several obviously wrong ones is not hard, and if you happen to click wrong, you just do it again. The problem with the CITI Program is that it's mortifyingly stupid, and that's Anderson's complaint about these other programs as well.

As it happens, I just recently completed my university's sexual harassment training. If anything, it was slightly less mortifyingly stupid than the CITI Program, in that at least there's case law behind most of the answers.