[FOUNTAIN]X-rated inefficiencyThe twenty-fourth letter of the alphabet, X, is mysterious. It represents something that exists, but its contents are uncertain. The letter X in “X-files” or “Project X” represents big secrets. The letter X in “Generation X” and “X Man” means it is hard to know who the person is. Malcolm X, the black human rights activist, changed his last name to X to emphasize that black Americans lost their real last names when their African ancestors were brought as slaves to the United States.
The letter X started to be used as a symbol for an unknown number in an equation.
It is an unknown number that exists within an equation, but does not reveal itself until the problem is totally solved.
The letter X is also used as an abbreviation for the word extreme, meaning excessive.
This kind of X is used in X-Sports or in X rated movies, such as pornographic movies, which were banned from general screening.
In Korea, harsh abusive language and obscene words are instead written as “XX...”
However, in economics, the use of the letter X is rather plain.
In the X-efficiency theory introduced by American economist Harvey Leibenstein, X means “surplus of extra.”
While traditional economics considers only the efficiency of resource distribution, Leibenstein argues that the efficiency of organizational management and the individual’s passion has much more influence on the economic output. In the same given conditions, a group that works cheerfully has a higher X-efficiency and, as a result, has a higher output.
In other words, if a group works reluctantly or doesn’t have the need to work hard and produces a low output, it is called “X-inefficiency.”
This can be seen in organizations that have an inefficient element or in a monopoly undertaking where there is no need to do their best.
A bureaucratic organization with no competition and no objective way to observe its achievements has a high chance of having a lower X-efficiency.
The case of a public enterprise manipulating data to receive good grades in the government’s annual evaluation of public agencies or of public servants focusing on refuting the critical press rather than on their jobs are examples of X-inefficiency.
The original jobs of these people were inefficient itself.
Since they have lost their minds in other things, maybe it should be called “XX-inefficiency.”
by Kim Jong-soo
The writer is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.