Toward a Theory on the Causes, Contours, and Consequences of “Culture Add” Hiring at Elite Firms


Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Innovation Fellowships




Who gets elite jobs and why? This question is important because economic inequality is driven by massive growth at the top of the income distribution. Recent work in sociology has underscored the cultural dimension of labor market sorting, finding that elite firms tend to use hiring for “culture fit” as a mechanism for hiring those from elite backgrounds, which reproduces inequality. More recently, many firms, including Meta, Pandora and Google, have shifted to a “culture add” hiring approach, which seeks to hire employees who “add to” rather than “fit in with” a firm’s culture. Despite its apparent widespread adoption in the labor market, researchers have yet to study this emergent talent selection paradigm. Using an innovative “full cycle” research approach that cycles between inductive and deductive (experimental) methods, this project builds a theory on the causes, contours, and consequences of “culture add” hiring at elite firms.