Relativism at work

Nepotism is good for business, according to the latest research from the European Association of Social Anthropology. "While society disapproves of nepotism, from the business owner's point of view nepotism can be an extremely economically rational strategy," says Professor Adam Kuper. We take the point when it comes to finding someone trustworthy to work long hours on the till at the corner shop, but we wonder whether mentioning Rupert Murdoch's quarrelsome brood helps the argument.

Nepotism is good for business, according to the latest research from the European Association of Social Anthropology. "While society disapproves of nepotism, from the business owner's point of view nepotism can be an extremely economically rational strategy," says Professor Adam Kuper. We take the point when it comes to finding someone trustworthy to work long hours on the till at the corner shop, but we wonder whether mentioning Rupert Murdoch's quarrelsome brood helps the argument.

We also note that the word derived from the Italian nepotismo, which referred to the papal practice of granting favours to nephews and other relatives. To be sure, the papacy was a strong brand leader for several centuries, but then it dropped the practice after it entered the more competitive global market in the 16th century.

Nevertheless, we await with interest the next findings from the Association of Applied Revisionism. Perhaps a research project will discover that bribery is the rational economic agent's way of ensuring that business gets done. Or that putting children to work at the age of 12 stops them turning into juvenile delinquents. No conventional wisdom is so securely established that it should not be challenged.

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