"Fit to be king: how patrimonialism on Wall Street leads to inequality"
The hedge fund industry is one of the most lucrative and powerful industries in the USA, yet it mostly comprises white men. To understand why, I turn to Weber’s theory of patrimonialism, which primarily has been applied to historical or non-Western societies. I argue that patrimonialism—activated through trust, loyalty and tradition—restricts access to financial rewards and facilitates the reproduction of the white male domination of this industry. Using data from 45 in-depth interviews combined with field observations at industry events over a 4-year period, I investigate how hiring, grooming and seeding practices within and among firms enable certain elites to maintain monopolies over financial resources. Applying the theory of patrimonialism to a context with few women and minority men in power-holding positions demonstrates how practices that reproduce elite structures are directly connected to inequality in the workplace.