School ties are immensely powerful in the business world, providing preexisting networks of relationships and low search costs. But while relying on them often works out just fine, lost in the mix of well-meaning loyalty to educational institutions and nostalgia for the past is the possibility that the ties that bind can also blind, undermining corporate efforts to build meritocracies.
Everyone knows that the educational degrees you earned can affect your career. How else to explain the spate of exaggerated claims of academic prowess among top executives, some of whom have decades-long track records but nonetheless continue to inflate precareer educational achievements. Most recently, Radio Shack was stung by this problem. But it also happened to Bausch & Lomb, Veritas Software, A.T. Kearney and the U.S. Olympic Committee when they welcomed executives to their top echelons.