What is Meritocracy?

Definition: A meritocracy is an organizational philosophy that rewards individual achievements and talent. It is a system that compensates people based on their merits.

What Does Meritocracy Mean?

It is said that the term Meritocracy originated with Michael Young’s book called “The rise of meritocracy”, written in 1958. Nonetheless, the principles behind the term have been known for centuries. The idea of meritocracy is that reward should be tied to individual achievements and qualifications. A person will have the opportunity to advance in his professional life along with the development of his qualifications and merits for the promotion.

A meritocratic system aims to eliminate unequal systems like nepotism, despotism and other unfair organizational systems that reward not results but individual influence and networking abilities. Another purpose of this system is to motivate individuals to develop their skills and knowledge in order to increase the overall level of preparation within the organization. This is also applicable for governments and countries.

Nevertheless, a country with a meritocratic culture must ensure equal opportunities for everyone, since the absence of equity will create elite groups that, because of their power, influence or resources have an exclusive access to certain opportunities that the rest of the people can’t enjoy.

Example

There’s currently an available job position to become a District Judge in the city of New Jersey. The Department of Justice is in charge of designating the person that will be granted with the position and, in order to do so, they opened a public hiring process where all individuals within the judiciary system can apply for the position.

The Department will evaluate everyone’s credentials and a panel of five qualified State Judges will deliberate to reach a decision of who will be the next District Judge. This process ensures that the individual with the best credentials, qualifications and experience for the position will be the one selected.

This will benefit the community since they will have a highly capable judge with enough skills to keep the District Court’s effectiveness. This is a demonstration of the procedures involved in a meritocratic system.