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(In)Equality in Elite Organizations

Elite organizations serve as role models and templates for other organizations. Their employees tend to be highly educated, and hired young in order to be further developed and adapted to fit the requirements of the organization. Yet, in spite of their acknowledged success and competence in their core business, many elite organizations have not achieved the same success and competence in their equality work. In this project, we study why that may be the case with a view to organizations in finance and higher education. In so doing, we analyse individual organizations as well as ‘supply chains of knowledge’.

Background and research questions:

  • One overarching research question is how the organization of the core business in elite organizations affects their equality work, and the practical outcomes thereof.
  • A related question is how systems and processes of merit- and performance assessment affects who makes a career in elite organizations.
  • Another question is how the procurement and processing of individuals with the ‘right’ knowledge in the ‘supply chain’ promotes, or hinders, gender equality in elite organizations.

Research approach:

The project is primarily based on interviews with individuals working in elite organizations, and with individuals in the corresponding ‘supply chains of knowledge’. Some sub-projects are document based. Others also include observation.

Key findings:

  • In this study, our results show how the formalization of merit assessments in the academy may hinder rather than promote gender equality.

Further information:

Handelsbankernas forskningsstiftelser contributes to the research on elite organizations in finance (Grant P18-0135; Principal Investigator Karin Svedberg Helgesson).