Meritocracy and knowledge society-between simulation and reality

In October 2019, we began the implementation of the research project "Meritocracy and the Knowledge Society - Between Simulation and Reality". The main question that will be addressed in the proposed research project is the following: what is the significance, scope and limitation of the meritocratic allocation of human resources in a (emerging) knowledge-based society and economy.

The main question in the proposed research project is as follows: What are the significance, scope and limits of the meritocratic allocation of human resources in an (emerging) society and economy based on knowledge? It is necessary to take account of the multiplicity and path dependency of contemporary socio-economic formations and the coexistence of various regulatory mechanisms which can function developmentally or inhibitively. No society is merely meritocratic in character, nor is it a pure knowledge society. In terms of the empirical research, the stress will be on Slovenian society, but in a comparative global framework (especially the EU). We list the following questions/objectives:

1     1. Is meritocracy only related to the consideration of formal education and formal certificates of competencies, or does it primarily emphasise professional autonomy and scientific ethics?
2. Is meritocratic allocation focused solely on instrumental (specialised) knowledge or does it also contain a tendency towards social dialogue and reflexivity (Archer, 2017)?
3. To what extent are bureaucratic (politico-ideological) and business interests, which are short-term and clientele-oriented, generating a ‘simulated meritocracy’?
4. What is the influence of the legal reproduction of social power and hierarchy based on previously created monopolies and retention (on the retention elite, see Adam/Tomšič, 2012)?
5. How is the meritocratic allocation and management of human resources manifested in either the public sector or private sector (especially in the fields of health and R&D)?
6. How are companies (industry) recognising talent and effort, how do they select new employees? Here, we will focus on small and medium-sized high-tech companies for which we already have considerable data (Adam et al., 2014).

· 1. We proceed from the thesis that meritocratic principles and criteria can be used in different ways. Therefore, we are talking about the tension between simulated and actual use and between formal and content use, among manifest and latent functions. We are interested in more demanding forms of meritocratic criteria. Namely, it is not only about taking diplomas, doctorates and other titles into account, but also lifelong learning, the ability to participate in teamwork, reputation, and reflexive ability. In order to learn more about this, we need insights into the experiences and interpretations of relevant actors (such as doctors, researchers, entrepreneurs, innovators).

This means we must use qualitative methods, strive to synthesise different approaches and use different databases. In this sense, we can speak of originality since such an integral approach cannot be found in international literature. We assume this will speed up the interdisciplinary process within the social sciences and humanities, while intense communication with representatives of other parts (natural sciences, technical and medical sciences) will be necessary.