I’m afraid that in my last post I may have come across as advocating for a system of true meritocracy. That isn’t what I want. Meritocracies are fair, certainly, but they lack an important human element.
Consider the following, two candidates apply for the same programming job. Candidate A is a better programmer, but Candidate B is a better fit for the office. They aren’t that far apart talent wise. In a meritocracy, Candidate A is hired. The overall productivity of the office drops because Candidate A is a backstabbing dirtbag who assumes everyone else is incompetent and useless.
In real life, the interviewer would be able to tell (probably intuitively) that Candidate B will get along better. B contributes less in code, but the sense of camaraderie means that all the other programmers are able to perform at peak efficiency. The office as a whole does better.
It’s true that sometimes Candidate A will be picked because he is the boss’s nephew or something, but that isn’t really the kind of place Candidate B wants to work anyway.
Real meritocracies get around the problem of filling workplaces with Candidate A by discipline and training. Strict rules keep workers from interacting with each other in an unprofessional manner. Freedoms are sometimes curtailed.
I’m willing to live with a bit of nepotism to avoid that.