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Old Boy Networks at Work in the United States

Chao Liu (North Carolina State University, USA)
Steve McDonald (North Carolina State University, USA)

Informal Networks in International Business

ISBN: 978-1-83982-879-9, eISBN: 978-1-83982-878-2

Publication date: 5 August 2022


Old boy networks are exclusive elite networks of white males that afford inside information, facilitate advancement, and provide support to each other. Understanding old boy networks is important because it represents a culturally specific form of cronyism that has significant negative consequences for international business. As a corrective to more optimistic scholarship on the benefits of social networks in organizations – and in line with critical assessments of other network phenomena, such as guanxi – we explore the generic social processes that give rise to old boy networks in society using Social Closure Theory and consider the consequences of old boy networks in organizations through the lens of Relational Inequality Theory. Specifically, we highlight research on network membership and gender, race, and class inequality in hiring, socialization, and assessment. We conclude by discussing the implications of old boy networks for international business.



Liu, C. and McDonald, S. (2022), "Old Boy Networks at Work in the United States", Horak, S. (Ed.) Informal Networks in International Business, Emerald Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 199-215.



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