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Max Weber Occasional Lectures


The Max Weber Occasional Lectures are informal seminars by distinguished scholars invited by members of the Programme as the academic year develops.

The aim of this initiative is to enrich the academic life of the Programme and the EUI by taking advantage of scholars passing through Europe and Italy and inviting them to stop over in Florence and deliver a talk about their most recent research and upcoming books. Occasional Talks are also given by scholars who happen to be visiting the EUI for other purposes already, such as a thesis defense.

Occasional Talks may also be linked to a Multidisciplinary Workshop organized by Fellows, one of the Thematic Groups,  an ad hoc reading group, or some other activity. Fellows not listed in any of the Thematic Research Groups are particularly encouraged to put forward the names of suitable candidates for Occasional Talks.

Max Weber Occasional Lecture

jointly organized with
EUI Interdisciplinary Research Cluster "Inequality, Welfare and Social Justice"

 Emilio Castilla_54_PROFILE

Meritocracy in the Workplace

Emilio J. Castilla (MIT Sloan School of Management)

14 December 2021, 17:00-18:30
Badia, Emeroteca and Online, Zoom



Since the beginnings of the 2000s, with the goals of promoting opportunity, fairness, and diversity inside organizations, merit has been widely considered a legitimate principle for guiding workplace decisions (in contrast to class, wealth, origins, or demographics, among others). In the United States, for example, the idea that selecting individuals based on talent, ability, and competence is “meritocratic” and provides opportunity for all is at the core of the “American Dream.” Across the world, the introduction and implementation of meritocratic processes and ensuring meritocratic outcomes is widely considered a sign of development and progress (and even fairness). In the context of for-profit organizations, for example, employers have adopted merit-based reward systems to encourage and reward the performance of their workers, where performance on the job counts as merit. These formalization efforts regarding the hiring of applicants and the distribution of rewards among employees based entirely on individuals’ merit are portrayed as illustrations of meritocracy.
Given the widely popular goals of promoting meritocracy and creating opportunity inside organizations, for a number of years now, my research has focused on the role that merit and merit-based work practices play in shaping employees’ careers in today’s workplace. In this lecture, I look forward to summarizing some of my key projects on meritocracy in the workplace. In so doing, I will stress the theoretical and practical implications of my research into the areas of employment, organizations, and workplace inequality.

About the speaker

Emilio J. Castilla is the NTU Professor of Management and a Professor of Work and Organization Studies at the MIT Sloan School of Management. He is currently the co-director of the Institute for Work and Employment Research, and a member of the Economic Sociology Group at MIT. He joined the MIT Sloan faculty in 2005, after being a faculty member in the Management Department of the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. He received his PhD in Sociology from Stanford University.
His research focuses on questions relating to how social and organizational processes (for example, social networks, hiring and recruiting efforts, performance-reward systems, and managerial roles) influence key employment outcomes for individuals and organizations over time. He formulates and answers his research questions in a variety of research settings, making use of field studies and diverse research methodologies. His work has appeared in American Journal of SociologyAmerican Sociological Review, Administrative Science QuarterlyOrganization Science, and ILR Review, among many. He is currently on the editorial board of Work and Occupations, and is associate editor of Management Science (Organizations section) and the ILR Review. Castilla has also taught in various degree programs at MIT Sloan, and at a number of other international universities.

To attend, please register.

Abstracts of MWP Occasional Lectures:


Page last updated on 02 December 2021

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