Came across this blog entry by Gloria Origgi, courtesy of a tweet from @ronjeffries on Kakonomics: or The Strange Preference for Low-Quality Outcomes.
The piece opines that in many systems, a state of collusive mediocrity can emerge and persist between agents, whereby an exchange of low quality outcomes and minimal rewards is mutually tolerated as part an Evolutionarily Stable Strategy.
It's easy to imagine this sort of low-expectations relationship emerging between an IT organization and mud maintainers, and how it might account for the kind of neglect some codebases must seemingly endure.
The relationship between coder and code itself might lend themselves to this sort of analysis along the lines of Joshua Kerievsky's notions of Sufficient Design.
One wishes the author had opted for a different name. I can almost hear every preschooler (and preschooler-at-heart) in the room giggle each time I read it.