Connections in scientific committees and applicants’ self-selection: Evidence from a natural randomized experiment

Manuel Bagues, Mauro Sylos-Labini, Natalia Zinovyeva

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

Abstract

We investigate theoretically and empirically how connections in evaluation committees affect application decisions. Prospective candidates who are connected to a committee member may be more likely to apply if they anticipate a premium at the evaluation stage. However, when failure is costly and connections convey information to potential applicants regarding their chances of success, the impact of connections on application decisions is ambiguous. We document the relevance of this information channel using data from national evaluations in Italian academia. We find that prospective candidates are significantly less likely to apply when the committee includes, through the luck of the draw, a colleague, a coauthor or a Ph.D. advisor. At the same time, applicants tend to receive more favorable evaluations from their connections. Overall, the evidence suggests that connected individuals have access to better information at the application stage, which helps them to make better application decisions. Ignoring applicants’ self-selection would lead to an overestimation of the connection premium in evaluations by 29%.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)81-97
Number of pages17
JournalLabour Economics
Volume58
Early online date2019
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2019
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Keywords

  • Connections
  • Self-selection
  • Academic labor markets

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