Hiring as Cultural Matching: The Case of Elite Professional Service Firms

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

301 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

This article presents culture as a vehicle of labor market sorting. Providing a case study of hiring in elite professional service firms, I investigate the often suggested but heretofore empirically unexamined hypothesis that cultural similarities between employers and job candidates matter for employers' hiring decisions. Drawing from 120 interviews with employers as well as participant observation of a hiring committee, I argue that hiring is more than just a process of skills sorting; it is also a process of cultural matching between candidates, evaluators, and firms. Employers sought candidates who were not only competent but also culturally similar to themselves in terms of leisure pursuits, experiences, and self-presentation styles. Concerns about shared culture were highly salient to employers and often outweighed concerns about absolute productivity. I unpack the interpersonal processes through which cultural similarities affected candidate evaluation in elite firms and provide the first empirical demonstration that shared culture-particularly in the form of lifestyle markers-matters for employer hiring. I conclude by discussing the implications for scholarship on culture, inequality, and labor markets.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)999-1022
Number of pages24
JournalAmerican Sociological Review
Volume77
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 2012

Fingerprint

hiring
employer
elite
firm
candidacy
labor market
self-presentation
participant observation
productivity
interview
evaluation
experience

Keywords

  • cultural capital
  • culture
  • hiring
  • homophily
  • inequality
  • interpersonal evaluation
  • labor markets

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science

Cite this

@article{aa7a1f2a7a844419b06bf2bf23c634e3,
title = "Hiring as Cultural Matching: The Case of Elite Professional Service Firms",
abstract = "This article presents culture as a vehicle of labor market sorting. Providing a case study of hiring in elite professional service firms, I investigate the often suggested but heretofore empirically unexamined hypothesis that cultural similarities between employers and job candidates matter for employers' hiring decisions. Drawing from 120 interviews with employers as well as participant observation of a hiring committee, I argue that hiring is more than just a process of skills sorting; it is also a process of cultural matching between candidates, evaluators, and firms. Employers sought candidates who were not only competent but also culturally similar to themselves in terms of leisure pursuits, experiences, and self-presentation styles. Concerns about shared culture were highly salient to employers and often outweighed concerns about absolute productivity. I unpack the interpersonal processes through which cultural similarities affected candidate evaluation in elite firms and provide the first empirical demonstration that shared culture-particularly in the form of lifestyle markers-matters for employer hiring. I conclude by discussing the implications for scholarship on culture, inequality, and labor markets.",
keywords = "cultural capital, culture, hiring, homophily, inequality, interpersonal evaluation, labor markets",
author = "Lauren Rivera",
year = "2012",
month = "12",
day = "1",
doi = "10.1177/0003122412463213",
language = "English (US)",
volume = "77",
pages = "999--1022",
journal = "American Sociological Review",
issn = "0003-1224",
publisher = "American Sociological Association",
number = "6",

}

Hiring as Cultural Matching : The Case of Elite Professional Service Firms. / Rivera, Lauren.

In: American Sociological Review, Vol. 77, No. 6, 01.12.2012, p. 999-1022.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

TY - JOUR

T1 - Hiring as Cultural Matching

T2 - The Case of Elite Professional Service Firms

AU - Rivera, Lauren

PY - 2012/12/1

Y1 - 2012/12/1

N2 - This article presents culture as a vehicle of labor market sorting. Providing a case study of hiring in elite professional service firms, I investigate the often suggested but heretofore empirically unexamined hypothesis that cultural similarities between employers and job candidates matter for employers' hiring decisions. Drawing from 120 interviews with employers as well as participant observation of a hiring committee, I argue that hiring is more than just a process of skills sorting; it is also a process of cultural matching between candidates, evaluators, and firms. Employers sought candidates who were not only competent but also culturally similar to themselves in terms of leisure pursuits, experiences, and self-presentation styles. Concerns about shared culture were highly salient to employers and often outweighed concerns about absolute productivity. I unpack the interpersonal processes through which cultural similarities affected candidate evaluation in elite firms and provide the first empirical demonstration that shared culture-particularly in the form of lifestyle markers-matters for employer hiring. I conclude by discussing the implications for scholarship on culture, inequality, and labor markets.

AB - This article presents culture as a vehicle of labor market sorting. Providing a case study of hiring in elite professional service firms, I investigate the often suggested but heretofore empirically unexamined hypothesis that cultural similarities between employers and job candidates matter for employers' hiring decisions. Drawing from 120 interviews with employers as well as participant observation of a hiring committee, I argue that hiring is more than just a process of skills sorting; it is also a process of cultural matching between candidates, evaluators, and firms. Employers sought candidates who were not only competent but also culturally similar to themselves in terms of leisure pursuits, experiences, and self-presentation styles. Concerns about shared culture were highly salient to employers and often outweighed concerns about absolute productivity. I unpack the interpersonal processes through which cultural similarities affected candidate evaluation in elite firms and provide the first empirical demonstration that shared culture-particularly in the form of lifestyle markers-matters for employer hiring. I conclude by discussing the implications for scholarship on culture, inequality, and labor markets.

KW - cultural capital

KW - culture

KW - hiring

KW - homophily

KW - inequality

KW - interpersonal evaluation

KW - labor markets

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=84870364710&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=84870364710&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1177/0003122412463213

DO - 10.1177/0003122412463213

M3 - Article

AN - SCOPUS:84870364710

VL - 77

SP - 999

EP - 1022

JO - American Sociological Review

JF - American Sociological Review

SN - 0003-1224

IS - 6

ER -