If You Are So Rich, Why Aren't You Smart?: Hoisted from the Archives from Ten Years Ago

Guo Xu and Hans-Joachim Voth: Patronage and Performance in the Age of Sail https://voxeu.org/article/patronage-and-performance-age-sail: 'People in power may use their discretion to hire and promote family members and others in their network. While some empirical evidence shows that such patronage is bad, its theoretical effects are ambiguous–discretion over appointments can be used for good or bad. This column examines the battle performance of British Royal Navy officers during the Age of Sail and finds that patronage ‘worked’. On average, officers with connections to the top of the naval hierarchy did better on every possible measure of performance than those without a family connection. Where top administrators have internalised meritocratic values and competition punishes underperformance, patronage may enhance overall performance by selecting better individuals...

#noted #2019-12-17