Cornelia Kristen: The Costs of a Non-Standard Accent in the Early Hiring Process

MAR 16, 2017 | 4:30 PM TO 6:30 PM



The Graduate Center
365 Fifth Avenue




March 16, 2017: 4:30 PM-6:30 PM




Advanced Research Collaborative


ARC Seminar: Cornelia Kristen: The Costs of a Non-Standard Accent in the Early Hiring Process

Prior research based on laboratory experiments has demonstrated that the presence of a foreign accent has negative effects, for example, on ratings of job suitability, assessments of job-relevant attributes or skills, and hiring recommendations or decisions. While experimental studies are well suited for establishing whether accented speech yields such outcomes, it remains a challenging endeavor to address the underlying processes. One strand of arguments suggests that immigrants with a non-standard accent are more difficult to understand than those without. In these instances, productivity considerations could be responsible for a negative effect. Another strand of arguments focuses on discrimination. In this line of reasoning a foreign accent is seen as a salient characteristic which can trigger distastes resulting in a penalty. Based on a field experiment conducted in Germany, we aim at providing insights in the ways in which the presence of a Turkish accent alters the labor market prospects of immigrants in the initial stage of the hiring process when applicants call to inquire about an advertised position. Results demonstrate that Turkish-accented applicants are turned down more often than those without a foreign accent and that this effect is not conditional on productivity aspects such as the communicative demands of the job. Discrimination seems to be the more likely candidate for bringing about the observed negative effects.

Cornelia Kristen is Professor of Sociology at the University of Bamberg, Germany, and head of the migration unit of the German National Education Panel Study (NEPS). She received her PhD from the University of Mannheim in 2004 and has been a researcher at the University of Leipzig and a professor at the University of Göttingen before her appointment at the University of Bamberg. Her major research interests lie in the fields of migration and integration. Recent publications include an edited volume on ethnic educational inequalities in Germany and several articles on integration patterns and processes of immigrants and their offspring including language use and acquisition, education, and ethnic segregation. She brings to CUNY her current work on hiring discrimination and selective migration.