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Guo Xu, Assistant Professor, University of California-Berkeley Haas School of Business: Patronage for Productivity: Selection and Performance in the Age of Sail

Time: 2020-09-15 14:26 Print

Topic: Patronage for Productivity: Selection and Performance in the Age of Sail

Speaker: Guo Xu, Assistant Professor, University of California-Berkeley Haas School of Business

Date: September 16, 2020 (Wednesday)

Time: 10:00-11:30

Location: 4-101

Language: English

Abstract:

Patronage is a byword for poor performance, yet its effect on the quality of selection is theoretically ambiguous. We study the selection effects of patronage in the world’s most successful navy – the British Royal Navy between 1690 and 1849. Using newly collected data on the battle performance of more than 5,800 naval officers, we find that promotees with family ties to the top of the naval hierarchy outperformed unconnected ones. This result is not driven by better assignments, crews, or equipment. There was substantial heterogeneity among the admirals in charge of promotions. Discretion over appointments thus created scope for “good” and “bad” patronage. Because most admirals promoted on the basis of merit and did not favor their kin, the overall selection effect of patronage was positive.

About the speaker:

Guo Xu is an assistant professor at Berkeley Haas. His research focuses on the selection, recruitment, and allocation of talent in private and public sector organizations. He earned a PhD in economics from the London School of Economics.