Godechot Olivier, 2016, « The Chance of Influence: A Natural Experiment on the Role of Social Capital in Faculty Recruitment », Social Networks, vol. 46, p. 61-75.
The effect of social capital is often overestimated because
contacts and centrality can be a consequence of success rather than its
cause. Only rare randomized or natural experiments can assess the real
causal effect of social capital. This paper relies on data from one such
experiment: faculty recruitment at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences
Sociales (EHESS) between 1960 and 2005, a leading French institution of
higher education in the social sciences. It exploits the fact that the electoral
commission, a hiring committee which produces a first ranking of
applicants, is partly composed of faculty members drawn at random. It
shows that when the PhD advisor is randomly drawn, it doubles the
chances of an applicant of being shortlisted.