Barriers to Success in Organizations: the Role of Social Class

Gupta, Anurag (2023) Barriers to Success in Organizations: the Role of Social Class. Doctoral thesis, University of London: London Business School.


This dissertation examines how achievement gaps can be shaped beyond college gates in organizations for workers from lower social class backgrounds. While much of the research has focused on highlighting class inequalities in formal schooling and college, recent research has shown that even when individuals from poorer backgrounds attain the same education and job access, they achieve lower career outcomes. We lack an understanding of how these achievement gaps are shaped.

In chapter 1, I focus on intergroup inequality beliefs as a mechanism through which employees from lower-class groups may contribute to social group inequalities. I compare the effects of social class background with the effects of caste, one of the oldest systems of social group hierarchy in the world.

Chapter 2 focuses on how class background shapes construal level, with implications for how employees approach their work and the time of significant achievement. I build on construal theory to argue that workers from lower social class backgrounds will have more chronic construal than higher social class workers, making them approach work more experimentally and taking longer to make a meaningful contribution. Finally, in chapter 3, I draw on Status Characteristics theory and psychological research on stereotypes to propose that managers hold competence stereotypes as a function of employees’ social class background and they have implications for employee development and performance trajectories.

Across the three chapters, I focus on barriers to success for workers from lower social class backgrounds in organizations. Pinpointing these barriers is important as it informs individual and organizational actions needed to promote social inclusion and efficiency.

More Details

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subject Areas: Organisational Behaviour
Date Deposited: 24 Jun 2023 13:44
Date of first compliant deposit: 24 Jun 2023
Subjects: Inequality
Social classes
Organisational development
Last Modified: 26 Jun 2023 09:30

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