This paper investigates the determinants of professors’ career advancement in Italian universities. From the analyses, it emerges that the fundamental determinant of an academic candidate’s success is not scientific merit, but rather the number of years that the candidate has belonged to the same university as the president of the selection committee. Where applicants have participated in research work with the president, their probability of success also increases significantly. The factors of the years of service and occurrence of joint research with other members of the commission also have an effect, however, that carries less weight. Nepotism, although it exists, seems less important. The scientific quality of the members of the commission has a negligible effect on the expected outcome of the competition, and even less so the geographical location of the university holding the competition.
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