Favoritism in Russian Organizations: Antecedents and Consequences

Favoritism in Russian Organizations:
Antecedents and Consequences

Balabanova E.S.

Dr. Sci. (Sociol.), Prof., National Research University Higher School of Economics, Moscow, Russia. balabanova@hse.ru

Portnyagina A.A.

media advertising specialist, Carat Russ Media, Moscow, Russia al.portniagina@gmail.com

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For citation:

Balabanova E.S., Portnyagina A.A. Favoritism in Russian Organizations: Antecedents and Consequences. Sotsiologicheskie issledovaniya [Sociological Studies]. 2023. No 2. P. 16-27


The paper analyzes the phenomenon of managerial favoritism defined as managers’ preferences for some of their subordinates, giving them the most favorable treatment at the expense of others. The study is based on two surveys of 1,116 managers and 364 employees. We reveal that the presence of favoritism is positively related to “clannish” type of social organization, with “closed” social network channels of hiring and employee socio-economic dependency from their managers. In organizations with favoritism, the importance of personal sympathies and subjective evaluations of managers is high, and a successful career requires compliance, discipline, and personal loyalty. In contrast, companies without favoritism are characterized by meritocratic type of social organization. They have open hiring channels, performance-based rewards and promotions, and a focus on continually updating the employees’ skills. Employees who reported favoritism in their organizations have lower job satisfaction, higher levels of role uncertainty, stress, and intentions to leave. Conversely, the most satisfied, engaged, and happy are those respondents who reported close and trusting relationships with their supervisors and at the same time their equal, not “exclusive”, treatment of all subordinates.

favoritism; in-group; out-group; leader-member exchange; meritocracy; power in organization


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