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Are you for or against nepotism?

Are you for or against nepotism?

Poll closed Jan 18, 2012.
  1. No, it is unethical. Neither I or a family member may benefit from nepotism.

    6 vote(s)
  2. No, it is unethical. I or a family member may benefit from nepotism.

    3 vote(s)
  3. Yes, it is acceptable. Neither I or a family member may benefit from nepotism.

    1 vote(s)
  4. Yes, it is acceptable. I or a family member may benefit from nepotism.

    0 vote(s)
  1. Jan 4, 2012 #1
    Hi, I've been wondering lately what proportion of people were for and against nepotism. Generally speaking, it is when familly members are favored for sought after jobs instead of people who would normally be more suited (more experienced, more hard working, more innovative, better salesperson etc.).

    In the context of government, it is generally frowned upon in western countries (thus the advent of democracy in favor of monarchies). However, it seems that in the corporate world (within otherwise democratic societies), hiring family members is often accepted, including in banks and law firms, even though it can seem to be in the expense of otherwise competent individuals.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 4, 2012 #2


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    Most people would be against nepotism...until it benefits them.

    With the exception of the truly ethical people, of course, but those are exceedingly rare.
  4. Jan 4, 2012 #3


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    I don't quite understand your categories.

    Nepotism in a company that is not family run is wrong. If it's a family business, then hiring family members cannot be avoided at all levels. Banks can be family businesses, a friend's family owns a bank. Family owned law firms would be the same.
  5. Jan 4, 2012 #4


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    Lots of car dealerships fall into that category, too. All the ones I know of make the lucky progeny start at the very bottom, though - usually washing cars that come in for service.
  6. Jan 4, 2012 #5
    It certainly looks unfair to any non-family member that's been shut out of a job by it, but what do you mean by 'wrong'? Is it illegal (I have no idea)? Is it much different than hiring a friend?I've gotten jobs two or three times because a friend, or friend of a friend, happened to be doing the hiring. Meaning I wasn't necessarily hired due to superior qualifications. Nepotism "smells" wrong, for some reason, but if it is, aren't all family businesses wrong? None of the lines seem clear to me.
  7. Jan 4, 2012 #6
    Nepotism in my culture means giving favors, usually public/other people's money, away to relatives or friends. (So I was a bit baffled by the question until I read your definition. And I found another cultural miscommunication: nepotism = cronyism in English; we just don't have that word.)
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 4, 2012
  8. Jan 4, 2012 #7


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    It is not illegal as far as I know. I think if the person doing the hiring owns the company or whose family owns the company, it's acceptable. If the hiring manager (or whoever) is simply another worker and they hire a family member, then that is unethical.

    I guess when you talk about non-family businesses, you kind of feel like the business is some sort of machine where you have set rules, ways things are done, and everyone is accountable to some higher up people don't even know about. A family business, on the other hand, is more dynamic and it feels like the whole point is to support a family as opposed to just create profit.

    I absolutely hate nepotism, even if it were to favor me. It doesn't make me very angry though, even if it were to happen. If they hire someone who isn't as good as me because they're family, well have fun with a less qualified individual! And if they were more qualified, than they should have the job period.
  9. Jan 4, 2012 #8
    Yeah, I think this sorts it out well enough.

    I Wikied and the origin of the term is interesting:
  10. Jan 4, 2012 #9


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    I don't think it is illegal, but by "wrong" one would mean morally or ethically wrong. And by definition, it is. It is showing favoritism based soley on a relationship and not - or in spite of - actual qualifications.
    If a friend is hired because he is a friend and not because by knowing him the employer knows he's qualified, yes...
    It certainly can be gray, since the main reason one hires someone they or someone else knows is because it eliminates the great unknowns of hiring. Interviewing a stranger, it is very difficult to really get to know them. So as a result, someone might be hired because they are a known entity rather than because they look the best on paper. That's not nepotism. Nepotism is more like doing a person a favor who doesn't deserve it.

    So you tell me: were you actually qualified for the jobs and the person hired you because they knew it or did they hire you because they liked you personally, regardless of your qualifications?
    AFAIK, there is no legal entity called a "family business", however if one is a sole proprietor people seem to take a different view. Perhaps "family business" is passed down from generation to generation like an heirloom. I suppose that's fine, but again I think the lines can get gray.

    The ethics of nepotism is based on the logic that a personal relationship can lead to an undue bias and an improper/incorrect personnel decision. I've been there: I used to work for a company where the boss hired his son. The son was completely unqualified and a cancer on the business, but the boss didn't see it, much to the detrement of the company.
  11. Jan 4, 2012 #10


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    That's fine unless the "fun" affects your career as well. Even if a company is large, I'm personally offended by dead wood, but in a small company a dead weight can be extremely destructive.
  12. Jan 4, 2012 #11


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    To be clear, nepotism is favoring relatives, cronyism is favoring friends or business associates.
  13. Jan 4, 2012 #12
    Isn't part of running a business running it the way that you'd want? I see nothing wrong with family run businesses - as long as it's clear and up front.

    Where nepotism can be wrong, however, is when there is 'open' applications for a position with all applicants thinking they have an equal shot and it goes to an underqualified family member. That's unfair to the applicants whom never had a chance from the start.
  14. Jan 4, 2012 #13
    I was perfectly qualified for the jobs, I wasn't "dead wood", or any liability, but it's absolutely possible if they interviewed 5 other people they could have found someone even better.

    More often than not I hear people say "It's not what you know, it's who you know." Meaning that networking is the key to success. People would rather work with people they are familiar with, as you said, maybe already on friendly terms with, so it's encouraged to make friends far and wide because any friend you make may represent an opportunity down the road. Just today I was introduced to a guy who knows a guy who has an art gallery, who said he'd put me in touch with him. That connection actually gives me an (unfair, perhaps) advantage over some artist walking in there cold. This, though, seems to be the way it's done; having connections trumps walking in cold, even with better qualifications.

    The case of hiring a relative who is not qualified doesn't strike me as wrong or unethical so much as plain stupid.
  15. Jan 4, 2012 #14
    Well, the maffia is run that way, so I guess it can't be that stupid. :uhh:
  16. Jan 5, 2012 #15


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    I have 3 personal horror stories where either relatives or children of the owners of the companies gave me such significant grief, that I would never ever ever hire either a relative, nor even someone I knew.

    Story #1:
    Non-nepo: Hey Nepo! Do such and such!
    Nepo: Picks nose.
    Some lawsuit thing almost happened due to Nepo not doing such and such.
    Non-nepo: #@!@#!^!#$@#$
    Nepo: What did you say?....... (daddy owns this company, and if I tell him you just called me a #^#$^#$^......)​

    I gave the Non-nepo a $100 tip for his work on my property, and vowed never to deal with the Nepo company again.

    (And that was 15 years ago, when $100 was worth something!)

    Story #2 ended the same way. I never did business with them again, even though the owners were very good friends of mine. (There is nothing worse than having to tell the general manager; "Can I talk to your mother about this? Oh there she is. Hi Jeanie! I was just trying to buy a jumper for my alternator, but your son kept interrupting me saying that you don't take returns. Well, I don't want to return anything. I just want a part. I'll pay for it of course. Oh, and btw, your stepson is a @&@#$%@&")
  17. Jan 5, 2012 #16


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    Unless you're a bit stupid, and your name if Fredo....


    Gotta love your mafia brothers.
  18. Jan 5, 2012 #17


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    Usually the people who don't like it are the ones passed over for a job because of it, but with all of the nebulous reasons employers choose employees, it's hard to really know what makes someone "qualified." Years of experience in a job isn't always an indicator of the quality of that job either. Everyone notices when someone unqualified gets a job that way, but then usually the employer suffers for their own bad choice too, but when everyone works well, it just ends up being counted as one of those family-run businesses, or the boss is just happy to have two hard workers from the same family instead of one.

    I agree it's no different than hiring a friend or someone you worked with elsewhere if you know they are highly capable of doing the job even if their resume isn't reflecting it so much. If you hire any of those people just to do them a favor and don't know if they're a good worker or know they aren't a good worker, then that's just a bad hiring decision no matter who it is.
  19. Jan 5, 2012 #18
    There are generally no laws regarding this. And technically, where I live, there are 6 types of businesses, non of which refer to a "family" type. From my understanding, when owners say "family business", it is a marketing euphemism that says to customers: we are sweet, nice, cozy, and reliable, and to employees: don't get your hopes up.

    The case that prompted this is a department manager who hired his offspring in a team of engineers. Now, they are often ahead of everyone else in terms of where the team is heading, spending much time talking to each other, while the rest do actual work. It seems to me that continued favoritism is unavoidable, and that "starting from the bottom up" (a la Prince Williams) is merely mental preparation for both the favored and the team, by the manager, for an interest in preparing his succession and retirement. I fail to see interest for the rest of the team.
  20. Jan 5, 2012 #19


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    I'm definitely opposed to giving someone a position because they are family (or friend) because inevitably they won't be the best person for the job. Reason being if they are qualified and good enough for the job they shouldn't need any help. Apart from being unfair on other workers it is also potentially damaging to a company and a person, the former because better employees are overlooked and the latter because the person may develop a sense of entitlement.

    I see no problem with telling a family member about a position so that they can apply or giving them some tips of how to interview but beyond that they have to get in on their own merits.
  21. Jan 5, 2012 #20
    If the manager is using his position to make sure his "offspring" is the front runner to succeed him, which it sounds like you're suggesting, it would be a disservice to the company, since, under fair conditions, someone else might prove better. Even if that's not the plan, then the favoring seems to have the effect of demoralizing the rest, which is also not good for the company. In this case, as you describe it, nepotism doesn't seem to be working out.

    However, I have seen cases where it worked out beautifully; the family member hired turned out to be great at the job. I also know of small businesses that are completely peopled with family members as employees, businesses that, to outward appearances at least, are running very well. There's no indication anyone is incompetent. That being the case, it would be hard for me to categorically condemn nepotism. It really depends on how it plays out in each individual case of it.
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