An Examination of Recent Hypotheses About Institutional Inbreeding

  • Hargens L
  • Farr G
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Institutional inbreeding has traditionally been viewed as a manifestation of academic particularism and parochialism. More recently, McGee and Berelson have hypothesized that, under certain circumstances, inbreeding may reflect patterns of recruitment and may aid a department's efforts to secure the services of noninbred scholars. This paper examines data for 1,165 .U.S. academic scientists in an attempt to test the hypotheses of McGee and Berelson. Small but consistently negative relationships between being inbred and measures of scholarly productivity are found; inbred scientists at high-prestige departments appear to be no more productive than scientists at departments of lesser eminence. In addition, evidence consistent with McGee's claim that inbred scientists are discriminated against in the allocation of departmental rewards is presented. Some implications of these results for the question of the nature and future of institutional inbreeding are suggested.

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  • Lowell L. Hargens

  • Grant M. Farr

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