The price of a job to have contacts

Personal merit does not always guarantee access to a job, and too often what really matters is whether or not you know someone related to the organization or project in question. When jobs are scarce and unemployment skyrockets, as happened in many countries during the last global financial crisis, there is even more reason to consider the repercussions than the practice of nepotism can have in the workplace.

Because what is clear is that someone who accesses a job to meet someone makes a profit: they go from not having a job for which they may not be qualified to having one. without going through too many personnel selection filters. But it is possible that the practice of “connection” also has a negative effect on the beneficiary. A sort of consideration more difficult to detect than the positive of gaining a place almost effortlessly.

Stigma by traffic jams

A group of psychologists from Butler University published an article in the Journal of Business and Psychology in which they present evidence for the strong social stigma who carry on their shoulders people selected for a place by nepotism. Specifically, people who access a job because they belong to a person’s family are not only judged negatively for taking advantage of their contacts. they are perceived as less able to perform it.


The researchers focused on analyzing the responses given by 191 business administration students. The members of this group of volunteers must have imagined themselves to be employees of a bank in which their boss had not yet been selected and then read information about three candidates for this position. Two of these candidates were always the same: a well qualified profile meeting the requirements of the vacant position and another clearly underqualified. The third application, which was the one corresponding to the person finally hired, varied between three levels of qualification.

In some cases this candidate scored higher than the other two candidates, but in others he was on the same level as the “strong” candidate of the previous two or was slightly lower. In one of these three possibilities, the third candidate fulfilled the minimum conditions to access the judgment. However, half of the volunteers were informed that this candidacy, the one chosen, was that of a close relative of the vice-president.

After going through this phase, the volunteers had to fill out questionnaires in which they assessed the person chosen to be their superior based on factors such as their skill level, luck, aptitude and political aptitude.

Karma things

The results show how elected officials are much less valued when there are signs of nepotism. In fact, in the three degrees of qualification that the third candidacy could present, it was always less valued than the candidacy which had been chosen on merit. The students assumed that this person was chosen primarily because of their family ties, regardless of their ability level reflected in their resumes. In this way, the selected people were assessed as if they all lacked typical characteristics generally associated with good managers, Regardless of whether the person chosen on the basis of “taking” was male or female.

In this way, even people who, from the professional and academic information available, seemed well prepared for the site, were seen as incapable. Paradoxically, the type of stigma observed in the study could make the people chosen for their relationships more difficult to develop their work because of the type of work climate they inoculate in the organization. It could also cost them dearly to rise above the influences of the one who chose them.

Bibliographical references:

  • Padgett, MY, Padgett, RJ and Morris, KA (2014). Perceptions of the Beneficiaries of Nepotism: The Hidden Price of Using a Family Connection to Find a Job. Journal of Business and Psychology, 30 (2), pages 283-298.

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