Please join us for a colloquium being given by Emilio J. Castilla, NTU Professor of Management and Professor at the MIT Sloan School of Management.
Best in Class: The Returns on Application Endorsement in Higher Education
Scholars have long suggested that well-connected applicants are advantaged during hiring into organizations. Less studied, however, is why key organizational decision makers may favor recommended candidates during applicant screening. We begin to address this gap by investigating whether and why application endorsements―an understudied informal practice whereby certain individuals (i.e., endorsers) advocate for particular applicants―affect organizational selection outcomes. Through the analysis of the population of applicants to a full-time MBA program over a seven-year period, we find that even after controlling for individual qualifications and competencies, endorsed applicants are substantially advantaged over non-endorsed applicants in admissions interview and offer decisions. In seeking to explain this advantage, we identify, develop and empirically test key theoretical explanations pertaining to the potential returns on application endorsements for the organization. We conclude by discussing the implications of our study for understanding the impact of application endorsements on labor and educational markets.