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“Achieving Meritocracy in the Workplace” winner of MIT Sloan Management Review 2017 Beckhard Prize

Emilio J. Castilla wins award for best MIT SMR article on planned change and organizational development

August 30, 2017, CAMBRIDGE, MA.  Today the editors of MIT Sloan Management Review announced that Emilio J. Castilla is the winner of the 2017 Richard Beckhard Memorial Prize, awarded to the authors of the most outstanding MIT SMR article on planned change and organizational development published from fall 2015 to summer 2016.

The prize was awarded for the article entitled “Achieving Meritocracy in the Workplace” from the Summer 2016 issue. Castilla is the NTU Professor of Management at the MIT Sloan School of Management

In the prize-winning article, the author found that managers who believe their organization has formal mechanisms to ensure meritocracy are more likely to display the biases that such systems are designed to forestall. This counterintuitive finding could stem from a sense on the part of managers that when the company as a whole has policies in place to combat bias and promote meritocracy, they can be less mindful about their individual decisions — unintentionally leading them to make biased choices.  

“Policies are not practices, and sometimes admirable policies lull organizational members into a state of false consciousness, assuming that good intentions mean good results,” the judges noted. “Castilla’s call for continuous monitoring and evaluation of the outcomes is very much in line with what Dick [Beckhard] would have recommended.”

To counter what Castilla calls the “paradox of meritocracy,” he calls for greater organizational accountability and transparency. The article shows how both can be advanced in ways that counterbalance complacency and help ensure that the organization is operating as a true meritocracy.

This year’s panel of judges consisted of distinguished members of the MIT Sloan School of Management faculty: Erwin H. Schell Professor of Management John Van Maanen, adjunct associate professor of operations Zeynep Ton, and retired senior lecturer Cyrus Gibson.

About Richard Beckhard and the Beckhard Priz

One of the founders and architects of the field of organizational development, Professor Richard Beckhard was a member of the MIT Sloan School of Management faculty for more than 20 years. A longtime friend of MIT Sloan Management Review, Beckhard was known for his efforts to help organizations function in a more humane and high-performing manner and to empower people to be agents of change.

About MIT Sloan Management Review

MIT Sloan Management Review leads the discourse among academic researchers, business executives and other influential thought leaders about advances in management practice, especially those shaped by technology, that are transforming how people lead and innovate. MIT SMR disseminates new management research and innovative ideas so that thoughtful executives can capitalize on the opportunities generated by rapid organizational, technological and societal change.