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Meritocracy in the Workplace

Max Weber Occasional Lecture by Professor Emilio J. Castilla

Add to calendar 2021-12-14 17:00 2021-12-14 18:30 Europe/Rome Meritocracy in the Workplace Badia, Emeroteca Online, Zoom YYYY-MM-DD


14 December 2021

17:00 - 18:30 CET


Badia, Emeroteca

Online, Zoom

This Max Weber Occasional Lecture is jointly organised with the Interdisciplinary Research Cluster "Inequality, Welfare and Social Justice."

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.

Take a look here at the next MW lectures of the academic year.



Prof. Emilio J. Castilla (MIT Sloan School of Management)

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