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Referral and Job Performance: Evidence from the Ghana Colonial Army

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  • Fafchamps, Marcel
  • Moradi, Alexander

Abstract

As formalized by Montgomery (1991), referral by employees improves efficiency if the unobserved quality of a new worker is higher than that of unrefereed workers. Using data compiled from army archives, we test whether the referral system in use in the British colonial army in Ghana served to improve the unobserved quality of new recruits. We find that it did not: referred recruits were more likely than unreferred recruits to desert or be dismissed as 'inefficient' or 'unfit'. We find instead evidence of referee opportunism. The fact that referred recruits have better observed characteristics at the time of recruitment suggests that army recruiters may have been aware of this problem.

Suggested Citation

  • Fafchamps, Marcel & Moradi, Alexander, 2009. "Referral and Job Performance: Evidence from the Ghana Colonial Army," CEPR Discussion Papers 7408, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:7408
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Marcel Fafchamps, 2004. "Market Institutions in Sub-Saharan Africa: Theory and Evidence," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262062364, January.
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    5. Lori Beaman & Jeremy Magruder, 2012. "Who Gets the Job Referral? Evidence from a Social Networks Experiment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(7), pages 3574-3593, December.
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    8. Barr, Abigail & Oduro, Abena, 2002. "Ethnic fractionalization in an African labour market," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(2), pages 355-379, August.
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    Cited by:

    1. Nicoletta Berardi, 2013. "Social networks and wages in Senegal’s labor market," IZA Journal of Labor & Development, Springer;Forschungsinstitut zur Zukunft der Arbeit GmbH (IZA), vol. 2(1), pages 1-26, December.
    2. Afridi, Farzana & Dhillon, Amrita & Sharma, Swati, 2015. "Social Networks and Labour Productivity: A Survey of Recent Theory and Evidence," Indian Economic Review, Department of Economics, Delhi School of Economics, vol. 50(1), pages 25-42.
    3. Berardi, Nicoletta, 2009. "The Remains of Informality in the Formal Sector: Social Networks and Wages in Senegal's Labor Market," TSE Working Papers 09-129, Toulouse School of Economics (TSE).
    4. Martin Abel & Rulof Burger & Patrizio Piraino, 2017. "The value of reference letters," Working Papers 06/2017, Stellenbosch University, Department of Economics.
    5. Caria, Antonia Stefano & Hassen, Ibrahim Worku, 2013. "The formation of job referral networks: Experimental evidence from ubran Ethiopia:," IFPRI discussion papers 1282, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).

    More about this item

    Keywords

    employee referral; hidden attributes; worker productivity;

    JEL classification:

    • J63 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Turnover; Vacancies; Layoffs
    • N47 - Economic History - - Government, War, Law, International Relations, and Regulation - - - Africa; Oceania
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration

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