The field of graduate recruitment: leading financial and consultancy firms and elite class formation

Michael Donnelly, Sol Gamsu

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13 Citations (SciVal)
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The symbolic value of being recruited by a high status multinational company likely represents an important marker of distinction. For the first time, a unique Destinations of Leavers in Higher Education (DLHE) data-set is used here to model entry to elite multinational company in finance, accountancy and consultancy sectors among graduates of different social origins, universities, degree subjects and with different degree classifications. From a sample of 11,755 graduates working across these three sectors, we examine what predicts entry to 31 leading firms and then examine pay hierarchies among the 3,260 graduates working for these companies using random-effects models. At first glance, significantly, we find that elite recruits come from a much broader range of universities than might be imagined. However, a closer look at the highest paid graduates within these firms reveals more familiar patterns of social and institutional stratification. We argue that these patterns likely reflect the nature of work undertaken by graduates in these elite firms, with institutional and social origins of graduates differing according to the particular track taken in what are likely to be highly differentiated graduate recruitment schemes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1374-1401
Number of pages28
JournalBritish Journal of Sociology
Issue number4
Early online date24 Mar 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2019


  • City of London
  • educational stratification
  • Elites
  • finance and consultancy
  • graduate recruitment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science


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