Redefining ‘Merit’

Commentary Social engineering movements appear to have increased in number and intensity during 2021. It is useful, for intellectual and strategic purposes, to ascertain whether there is a common theme that links these movements and explains the growing anxiety about their impact on a person’s expectation to be rewarded on the ground of his or her “merit.” An overriding theme that interconnects these movements concerns the reasons why some intelligent, diligent, imaginative, and entrepreneurial people fail to achieve promotion and may be overlooked in favour of applicants whose achievements are questionable or even non-existent. Ideally, people should be promoted on “merit.” The usual arguments in favour of this are that “merit” enhances efficiency, increases productivity, and contributes to overall fairness. Yet, putting forth such arguments nowadays can also be like waving a red flag in front of an aggressive bull in the matador’s ring. Of course, “merit” is an undefined, …

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