American law schools, including the one I teach at, currently face serious budget problems due to declining enrollment. The obvious response is to try to cut expenditures. A particularly visible example, at least in our case, is abandoning the practice of serving catered food at faculty meetings and similar events.
My guess is that the total amount saved is a tiny fraction of the budget, but I think that fraction understates the effectiveness of the change for two different reasons, both in some sense symbolic. The first is that it is hard to persuade other people that they should be careful to hold down expenditures if you are not doing so yourself. Catered meals are a visible extravagance provided mostly for the benefit of the faculty—who, to a considerable extent, run the school. Abandoning them is a way of signalling staff members that they too should be willing to make do on less money, even if it makes life a little harder and less pleasant for them.
The second reason is one that I intuit better than I can explain; it has something to do with the different feel of different human organizations. Consider at one extreme a loving family where every member takes it for granted that he ought to take account of the welfare of the other members in his decisions. Consider at the other extreme a bureaucratic organization, public or private, where the individual concern is not with the consequences of his acts but with the paper trail, his ability to prove to the satisfaction of his superiors that he has done what he should do, whether or not it is true.
Most organizations lie somewhere between those two extremes, depending in part on their size—it is easier to know and care about four other people than four thousand. Most organizations, however large and bureaucratic, make some attempt to take advantage of the family level feelings in order to motivate their members to act in the interest of the organization and the other members, but large formal organizations are less likely to succeed than small informal ones. How successful they are depends in part on how much the organization feels like a family, how much like a bureaucracy.
Which is one reason why, when my school stopped serving lunch at faculty meetings, I started bringing chocolate chip cookies.