What is a paper economist?

I picked up this job title in a piece on the Business Week website called “The New Push to Get Rid of Paper”.  The person in question is a “paper economist and analyst” at a consulting firm. The BW piece is about our unfulfilled dream to have a paperless office so – adding the two together – it is probably to do with economising the use of paper.  If so then one can’t help wondering why we suddenly need people with that job description.  The BW article suggests that IT allows us to get hold of documents more easily and if we print it we take ownership over the document – somehow it becomes more real when you do so.

I have a few other ideas to offer: 1) we don’t trust IT so print important document just in case;  2) convenience, when we want to refer to something later on when meeting F2F with a colleague; and 3) compliance and an increased need for ticking boxes and proving output, productivity, etc.  I’m guilty of all of these but I actually I don’t feel a particular need to print just because I can. 

I my mind this is connected to working smarter and being able to work towards creating value (I knew that word would pop up). But leaving the IT and the convenience aside – what do we do with an external requirement to prove that we actually do work?  Nowadays most industries/businesses are encumbered by compliance regulations and monitoring and ticking boxes becomes a core activity – can business survive that?


Hello All,

Allow me to introduce myself.  My name is Inger Seiferheld and I am the MBA Programme Director at the University of Edinburgh Management School.  Without being overly serious I hope this blog will give you an insight in one of more of the following: life in academia, life as an MBA programme director, life as an MBA student, as well as other things I encounter working my way through the daily tasks.  As I moved here from my native Denmark you may on occasion find reference to a dim and distant past in the world of Danish universities.  Knowing myself, I am also likely to stray into spare-time activities and events – please don’t hold that against me.

You may not know it but being an MBA Director is exciting and a very rewarding job.  Apart from everything else, I am lucky enough to meet and work with intelligent people from all over the world.  On a daily basis I talk to people from about 30 different countries and that is just among the student body.  This of course is a unique chance to gather knowledge that you would never find in any textbooks or journals.  You get to compare business practices with people from Columbia to New Zealand, from Russia to South Africa and that it gives you access to an amazing body of knowledge.

On the to-do list for today is meeting up with prospective students, advising current students on how to progress with their consultancy projects and a catch-up wih my Director colleague.  Apart from that I’ll encounter a lot of unforeseen things which is good as it keeps you on the toes.

Have a good weekend.