Making Top Managers: The Role of Elite Universities and Elite Peers

From Seth Zimmerman:

This paper estimates the causal effect of elite college admission on students’ chances of reaching top management positions, and decomposes the total effect into a component attributable to ties formed between college peers and a component attributable to other institutional inputs. I construct a novel dataset linking archival records of applications to elite colleges in Chile to the census of corporate directors and executive managers at publicly traded Chilean firms. I combine these data with a regression discontinuity design to estimate the causal effect of admission on leader- ship outcomes. Overall, elite admission raises the number of leadership positions students hold by 50 percent, but gains are larger for students who attended elite private high schools and near zero for students who did not. Admitted students from elite high schools are much more likely to work in top management roles with other elite high school students from their college degree program and cohort, but are no more likely to work with elite high school students from the same degree program in other cohorts or other degree programs in the same cohort. I interpret this difference-in-differences analysis of co-management outcomes using a simple model of referral-based hiring. The model suggests that peer ties account for 80 to 100 percent of admissions gains for elite high school students. 


About ozidar

I'm an Assistant Professor of Economics at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business and a Faculty Research Fellow at National Bureau of Economic Research. You can follow me on twitter @omzidar.
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