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Referral and Job Performance: Evidence from the Ghana Colonial Army

  • Marcel Fafchamps
  • Alexander Moradi

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 refreed recruits have better observed characteristics at the time of the recruitment suggests that army recruiters may have been aware of this problem.

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Paper provided by Centre for the Study of African Economies, University of Oxford in its series CSAE Working Paper Series with number 2009-10.

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Date of creation: 2009
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Handle: RePEc:csa:wpaper:2009-10
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  1. Oriana Bandiera & Iwan Barankay & Imran Rasul, 2005. "Social Preferences and the Response to Incentives: Evidence from Personnel Data," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 120(3), pages 917-962, August.
  2. Pramila Krishnan & Emanuela Sciubba, 2006. "Links and Architecture in Village Networks," Birkbeck Working Papers in Economics and Finance 0614, Birkbeck, Department of Economics, Mathematics & Statistics.
  3. Simon, Curtis J & Warner, John T, 1992. "Matchmaker, Matchmaker: The Effect of Old Boy Networks on Job Match Quality, Earnings, and Tenure," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 10(3), pages 306-30, July.
  4. Barr, Abigail & Oduro, Abena, 2002. "Ethnic fractionalization in an African labour market," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(2), pages 355-379, August.
  5. Datcher, Linda, 1983. "The Impact of Informal Networks of Quit Behavior," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 65(3), pages 491-95, August.
  6. Oriana Bandiera & Imran Rasul, 2002. "Social networks and technology adoption in Northern Mozambique," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 3539, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  7. Saloner, Garth, 1985. "Old Boy Networks as Screening Mechanisms," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 3(3), pages 255-67, July.
  8. Venkatesh Bala & Sanjeev Goyal, 2000. "A Noncooperative Model of Network Formation," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 68(5), pages 1181-1230, September.
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