Success and Luck: Good Fortune and the Myth of Meritocracy

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Duration 01:00:14

Cornell University

Robert H. Frank is the Henrietta Johnson Louis Professor emeritus of Management and Professor emeritus of Economics at Cornell’s Johnson Graduate School of Management. A co-recipient of the 2004 Leontief Prize for Advancing the Frontiers of Economic Thought, Professor Frank also was awarded the Johnson School’s Stephen Russell Distinguished Teaching Award in 2004, 2010, and 2012, and its Apple Distinguished Teaching Award in 2005. For more than a decade, his “Economic View” column appeared monthly in The New York Times, and he is the author of more than ten books, including Success and Luck: Good Fortune and the Myth of Meritocracy.


What Science Says About the Myth of Meritocracy

How important is luck? In recent years, social scientists have discovered that chance events play a much larger role in important life outcomes than most people once imagined. This unusual presentation will explore the interesting, and sometimes unexpected, implications of those findings for how best to think about the role of luck in life.

Learn More About The Myth of Meritocracy

Most of the chance events that shape important life outcomes are, of course, beyond any individual’s control. But collectively, we have considerable say over what is perhaps the biggest stroke of good fortune that anyone can experience—to have been born in an environment that enables people to succeed. Such environments don’t arise by chance; they require high levels of continuing investment. In this course, Professor Frank will describe how our failure to recognize the external underpinnings of our own success has made us reluctant to support the necessary investment to maintain it. He will also explain how more supportive environments can be maintained without demanding painful sacrifices from anyone.


Recommended Reading for Good Fortune and the Myth of Meritocracy:

  • Success and Luck: Good Fortune and the Myth of Meritocracy, by Robert H. Frank
  • The Meritocracy Trap, by Daniel Markovits
  • The Tyranny of Merit: What’s Become of the Common Good?, by Michael Sandel




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Jeffrey Watt

Success & Luck

Incredible lecture on Success and Luck and wonderful lecturer. Great to look at Meritocracy and the common good. Super interesting!

2 years ago
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