Working Paper | HBS Working Paper Series | 2010

Reversing the Queue: Performance, Legitimacy, and Minority Hiring

by Andrew Hill and David A. Thomas


Studies of minority hiring have found that poor-performing firms or firms in highly competitive contexts are more likely to hire minority candidates. However, most work has examined hiring for entry and mid-level positions, not senior management. Management positions differ in terms of the amount of uncertainty in identifying candidates qualified for the job, in the intensity of external evaluations of both managerial and firm performance, and in the level of accountability for that performance. Furthermore, the influence of senior minority managers on hiring practices may differ substantially, depending on where a manager sits in the firm's hierarchy. Examining hiring practices on coaching staffs of teams in America's National Football League from 1970 to 2007, we find that better-performing teams are less likely to hire minorities to fill lower-level and mid-level coaching positions (as predicted by prior literature on labor queues), but that such teams are more likely to hire minorities into leadership positions. We also find that minority head coaches hire more minorities for subordinate coaching jobs, but that the presence of a minority offensive or defensive coordinator (with a white head coach) is a significant, negative predictor of minority hiring in junior and mid-level positions.

Keywords: Diversity; Selection and Staffing; Leadership; Managerial Roles; Performance Effectiveness; Sports Industry; United States;


Hill, Andrew, and David A. Thomas. "Reversing the Queue: Performance, Legitimacy, and Minority Hiring." Harvard Business School Working Paper, No. 11-032, September 2010.