Race Influences How Leaders Are Assessed

Wall Street Journal, January 3, 2011

When white leaders succeed, people often say it is because they are competent. When black leaders succeed, people say it happened despite their incompetence. At least, that’s what two business-school professors found after reviewing news coverage of 113 top college quarterbacks—generally viewed as team leaders—in the 2007 football season.

According to the study, published in the Academy of Management Journal, media reports commended successful white quarterbacks for their intellectual prowess, while black quarterbacks got credit for being athletic. Deep-seated stereotypes that black leaders were intellectually inferior also came to light when the athletes performed poorly, with failure attributed to problems like inadequate decision-making skills, not a weak arm or poor agility.

The findings carry over to the C-suite, where the prototypical leader is white, says Ashleigh Shelby Rosette, a management professor at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business and co-author of the study on racial bias.

Prof. Rosette says that when successful organizations are led by black managers, the strong performance is attributed to broad market factors over which the leader had no control, or to what she calls “compensatory stereotypes,” such as humor or public-speaking skills, which would make up for any lack in competence.


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  • Rdgdsg

    If this kind of thinking, that blacks succeed in spite of incompetence, is wrong, why the need for affirmative action? How many blacks in high positions would be there if judgements were based on merit alone?

    WSJ is trying to cajole Whites into guilt. Please don’t fall for this stuff.

    • Sincerely Concerned

      Hmm.  WSJ/Rosette are not simply trying to cajole, they’re outwardly stating here that once again, whites are racist in their thinking.  Using the example of what is thought of football quarterbacks, additionally, is laughable to me because those with an opinion are likely to be highly emotional about players and teams, making this study quite inexact.  Further, it goes back to 2007.  What about something more recent than over 4 years ago?  This whole thing smacks of yet another study group having an agenda and “proving” it with any fodder they can find.

  • Anonymous

    “When black leaders succeed, people say it happened despite their incompetence.”

    What else are they supposed to say?  I mean, in at least 98% of the cases it’s true.

    Let me go one step further and say, “without AA there would be 95% fewer blacks in higher education.”

  • Blaak Obongo

    “When ‘black leaders’ [sic] succeed?”

    Where are these “successful black leaders?”

    All I see are the products of White guilt, black tribalism and affirmative action.

  • Helena Hanndkart

    So, black people seem to succeed even when they are considered incompetent.  It might be observed that back in the day white people succeeded even when they were considered incompetent because of the iniquities of white privilege, which elevated them beyond their true abilities.  However, to the question posed earlier, it is really quite easy to answer: Affirmative action for black people is still necessary because of Racism, which affirmative action is designed to address, and which the view that black people sometimes succeed in spite of incompetence, apparently quite unrelated to the fact they are elevated beyond their true abilities by the iniquities of affirmative action…  is indeed evidence of. (I think that’s right)

  • Anonymous

    Where I work the blacks are treated like babies constantly.  Sometimes I think my white bosses are scared of them, which is unacceptable. My coworkers (black and white) will sit around and tell me stories about past people who worked there.  Apparantely, according to them, the white people got fired for ” legitimate” reasons which, according to my coworkers were mostly personality flaw issues it sounds like.  Meanwhile all the blacks got “laid off” or “let go” because they didn’t pass background checks but other than that they were “wonderful, smart workers”.  I am learning more and more to take what is said in conversations like that with a grain of salt.

  • Anonymous

    I have to go out on a limb here and assume that Ashleigh Shelby Rosette couldn’t tell me if I asked her what a cover 2 is.  I’ll bet she couldn’t tell me the difference between the read option and West Coast offense.  So how does she deign to weigh in on whether or not quarterback play is “stupid” or which offensive formations rely more on raw athleticism as opposed to strategy? 
    If a quarterback, black or white, obviously fails to read the coverage and throws an interception, it’s because of incompetence, plain and simple.
    When Tim Tebow ran roughshod over the SEC, they said it was because he was athletic, not because of his intellectual prowess.  Now he’s in the NFL and is regaled for being stupid AND having poor mechanics.  Tebow is just about the only noteworthy white “black quarterback.”  Wonder if ASR has paid much attention to the treatment of Tebow in the media.  They went absolutely crazy when they finally got a “black quarterback” they could openly criticize.
    Meanwhile, Cam Newton has accounted for 35 touchdowns with 22 turnovers.
    Mike Vick? 19/24.
    Donovan “He Never Had A Team” McNabb?  Five TDs/ four turnovers before he got his walking papers.
    These players may be exciting to watch but they make stupid decisions with the football that cost their team. Even a lousy team will convert turnovers into points on the board.  Does ASR understand the concept of momentum in a football game and how one stupid decision such as a forced throw or a fumble because of a little too much razzle-dazzle can make the difference between winning and losing?

    No probably not. But she has one playbook down pat; she knows just the right kind of nonsense that will get printed in the Wall Street Journal.

  • Anonymous

    Oh so it “might be observed,” might it? 

    Where, in a Hollywood production?

    There are more stories than could be relayed in the space of this webpage of whites held back for hire or promotion because quotas need to be filled, but when it comes to the elusive black engineer who would have built the Space Shuttle five years faster had Cleatus Smith and his buck teeth not been promoted past him because of “white privilege,” well we just have to be satisfied with “historical anecdote.”

    So I’ll ask you point blank, Helena: name one instance where a black was held back for an inferior white that wasn’t featured in a fictional Hollywood production.

    • Anonymous

      Exactly. The lefties live in a huge reality-distortion-field made in Hollywood. And they actually mean it.

      They cite for example “To Kill a Mockingbird”, seemingly without realizing that it’s just a novel, i.e. pure fiction.

  • You’re on to something.  What’s with this business about basing success on the ability for 17-23 year old men in throwing a spherical object?  Football is an amusement, not a science, a technology or a heavy industry.

  • There are two types of successful Blacks. Those that managed to gain their freedom and leave the DNC plantation. The other types are the Black overseers.  Blacks like Herman Cain and Clarence Thomas are just two examples of successful Blacks the escaped the Democrat plantation and become success in their own right.

    The Black overseers became successful because they were appointed by their Democrat masters to a position of power. Their job is to deliver the votes to their masters, the DNC. Their loyalty is to the DNC, often at the expense of their own people. They are rewarded with high paying token jobs as long as they continue to deliver the votes to the DNC. A prime example would be Rev Jessie Jackson, the Black Caucus. the NAACP. and other Black overseers, collectively know as the Black leaders.

    • Anonymous

      That’s in interesting analogy. 

      I wonder how many Americans are aware that, in 1830, there were 3,775 black families who owned black slaves?

      Source: http://tinyurl.com/79w5lqk

      • Anonymous

        I wonder if Al Shakedown has gotten around to shaking down Muslims yet for their role in the slave trade.

      • Different types of slavery. Under the plantation systems, Blacks were physical slaves to O’l Master.  Under the share cropper system, they became economic slaves to the Boss Man.  During the Civil Rights Era, they become political slaves to the Democrats. Regardless of the circumstance there has always been Blacks who been willing to sell out their people for a cushy place in live.

        Just as the Black slaves expected O’l Master to take care of them, Blacks today expect their new masters, the Democrats to care if them. That’s why few Blacks are Republicans, the Republicans freed them, treated the like a free people, and expected the to work like white folks do.

        Let’s not forget the Indians that owned slaves as well.

  • Oil Can Harry

    So the media praised white QBs more often than their black counterparts?

    Could it be this was because black QBs are usually mediocre?

  • Anonymous

    Are you serious!?  Let me tell you something, when I was 16 I experienced discrimination.  At my first job, in a fast food joint, my dad was told by the BLACK manager (I am white) that I wasn’t getting more hours because “white girls don’t work as well as black girls.”  Dad took that ball and ran with it.  The manager wound up getting transferred (and she should have been fired IMO).

    Affirmative action has never been necessary.  Given the average IQ of blacks and of whites, whites are going to qualify for more jobs than blacks.  That is life, deal with it.  All affirmative action does is make sure qualified whites are given the shaft.

  • SoCal LoCal

    College football QB’s are leaders? Really! The average college football player is over 200 points down the SAT scale from the campus average. They only lead their teams down the field, with the help of coaches. What sort of leadership is that?

     With the exception of the service academies and Georgia Tech, these young men generally have no business at a university; at best they would qualify for a trade-tech school. And some really belong in jail, but avoid this fate because they have game.

  • Anonymous

    Years ago liberals touted the term ‘color blind’ to emphasize their gregarious notions of social justice. That term fell out of favor for obvious reasons: A true color-blind society would tend to segregate itself as race-specific abilities and disabilities became apparent. 

  • This is perfect because this is the only time a Black is reasonably expected to be something of a leader based on merit: Monkeying around with a synthetic watermelon.

  • Alexandra

    Funny, when I think of “black leaders” I think of fine folks such as Jesse ‘n Al.  They’re pretty good at race-hustling.