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Measuring Nepotism through Shared Last Names: Are We Really Moving from Opinions to Facts?

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  • Fabio Ferlazzo
  • Stefano Sdoia

Abstract

Nepotistic practices are detrimental for academia. An analysis of shared last names among academics was recently proposed to measure the diffusion of nepotism, the results of which have had a huge resonance. This method was thus proposed to orient the decisions of policy makers concerning cuts and funding. Because of the social relevance of this issue, the validity of this method must be assessed. Thus, we compared results from an analysis of Italian and United Kingdom academic last names, and of Italian last and given names. The results strongly suggest that the analysis of shared last names is not a measure of nepotism, as it is largely affected by social capital, professional networking and demographic effects, whose contribution is difficult to assess. Thus, the analysis of shared last names is not useful for guiding research policy.

Suggested Citation

  • Fabio Ferlazzo & Stefano Sdoia, 2012. "Measuring Nepotism through Shared Last Names: Are We Really Moving from Opinions to Facts?," PLOS ONE, Public Library of Science, vol. 7(8), pages 1-6, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:plo:pone00:0043574
    DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0043574
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    1. Tan, Youchao & Xiao, Jason & (Colin) Zeng, Cheng & Zou, Hong, 2021. "What's in a name? The valuation effect of directors’ sharing of surnames," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 122(C).
    2. Jolita Vveinhardt & Włodzimierz Sroka, 2020. "Nepotism and Favouritism in Polish and Lithuanian Organizations: The Context of Organisational Microclimate," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 12(4), pages 1-23, February.

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