The Camouflage Effect: Separating Achieved Status and Unearned Privilege in Organizations
In many organizational settings, status hierarchies result in the conferral of privileges that are based on achievement. However, in the same settings, status may result in the bestowal of privileges that are unearned. We argue that these unearned privileges are often awarded based on ascribed characteristics, but are perceived to be achieved. We further argue that these misattributions occur because acknowledging that one has benefited from unearned advantages that are awarded in a meritocracy can be threatening to a person's self-identity. We propose that by studying unearned privileges in organizational settings, a more accurate assessment of status hierarchies may result. © 2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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