Article i 'Tidsskrift for arbejdsliv' no. 3 2008, page 88-107.
English resume

Job chances

The significance of social networks and recruitment practices of companies

Jacob Jepsen Pedersen

In economic theory, scholarly interest in unemployment has for long been focussed on labour market rigidities, disincentives, mismatch between the demand and supply side on the labour market, and other supply-side factors. This paper suggests a supplementary perspective which introduces a new set of explanatory variables, namely a network perspective. It is not offered as an alternative to economic theories, but as a supplement to our existing knowledge as to why some people easily get a job, while others are left in more or less chronic unemployment.

Besides classic factors such as incentives and qualifications, network and recruitment variables increasingly seem to play an important role. Our knowledge in this area is yet quite rudimentary. However, key indicators such as survey questions about how people found there latest job certainly look quite promising. For instance, the Danish Labour Force Survey 2005 revealed that one out of four respondents had got their latest job through personal contacts (Danmarks Statistik, 2006).

This article presents and discusses the underlying theory and empirical fi ndings of a number of national and international studies that focus either on the importance of social ties or on the ways companies recruit new employees. The common denominator is that to understand the job match, it is necessary to consider both the demand and supply side. Still, even though the job match is the common research object of the two traditions studying companies’ recruitment processes and the importance of social ties, respectively, the two traditions have not in any significant way interacted. and it is reasonable to suggest that a combined understanding of the results of these two traditions is very much needed (Granovetter 1995). In the article’s survey of theories and findings it is attempted to bridge between the two traditions.