The Camouflage Effect: Separating Achieved Status and Unearned Privilege in Organizations

Status and Groups

ISBN: 978-0-76231-229-0, eISBN: 978-1-84950-358-7

ISSN: 1534-0856

Publication date: 16 August 2005


In many organizational settings, status hierarchies result in the conferral of privileges that are based on achievement. However, in the same settings, status may result in the bestowal of privileges that are unearned. We argue that these unearned privileges are often awarded based on ascribed characteristics, but are perceived to be achieved. We further argue that these misattributions occur because acknowledging that one has benefited from unearned advantages that are awarded in a meritocracy can be threatening to a person's self-identity. We propose that by studying unearned privileges in organizational settings, a more accurate assessment of status hierarchies may result.


Shelby Rosette, A. and Thompson, L. (2005), "The Camouflage Effect: Separating Achieved Status and Unearned Privilege in Organizations", Thomas-Hunt, M.C. (Ed.) Status and Groups (Research on Managing Groups and Teams, Vol. 7), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 259-281.

Download as .RIS



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2005, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

To read the full version of this content please select one of the options below

You may be able to access this content by logging in via Shibboleth, Open Athens or with your Emerald account.
If you think you should have access to this content, click the button to contact our support team.