In our society today, favouritism occurs as a way of life in many, if not all, our social structures. Favouritism, which is a term that best explains nepotism and cronyism, is the showing of special or preferential treatment to an individual or a group of people. In other words, it is the unfair treatment that favours one person or more as the case may be over the others.
Nepotism refers to the preferential treatment given to relatives or family members. Also, it is the favouritism shown by people in positions of authority to people that are closely related to them. An example is when a politician who is in a high office makes his child or in-law gets a similar position mainly because of the relationship between them and not because the child or in-law has the qualifications.
It was derived from the Latin word “Nepos” meaning nephew. In the early days, the term can be linked to religious practice, part of which includes the assigning of the position of cardinal to nephews by the catholic pope and bishops.
In recent times, the practice of nepotism has extended to almost all the spheres of life ranging from politics to the social sector where people are employed because of family ties with no regard whatsoever for qualification. This, as a result, is an injustice to those that have the required qualifications but were not given the job because they are not related to the people in charge.
Cronyism is referred to as the preferential treatment given based on friendship e.g. promotion, employment, bonus, salary raise, better job assignment, or contracts that are not based on performance. It is the favouring of friends without putting qualifications e.g. performance, objective, or competence into consideration.
Contrary to nepotism, cronyism is putting friends first for favourable opportunities. For example, if a person gets promoted in the office just because the person is the friend of the owner of the company or when staff with outstanding performance is not given a promotion because the person at the top favours another person that happens to be a friend.
Cronyism exists when the person in authority appoints friends that can help them vote against ideas, strengthen their proposal, or help them retain their position of authority by voting for them. These friends/appointees will always have the same opinion as to the appointer even if the opinion will not be of help to the organization.
The most important thing for me and my department members is not the achievement for the company but the master’s favour that was bestowed on me. This favour I have because I say ‘yes’ to every decision the master makes and everything the master does. To go against him is to look for another job (Prasad and Negandhi, 1971, p. 128).
This type of favouritism also occurs in the political system whereby the contract is awarded to friends who in turn give the awarder some shares or help them garner votes during the election. The word ‘crony’ which is the root word of cronyism is said to come from the Greek word khronios’ and it means long term (dictionary of word origins, 1990). It was originally planned to mean long term friends. However, today it is an insulting word for the term of friendship with the element of political or social corruption or favouritism.
It can also be favouritism toward preferred customers. For example, a company may employ people that always patronize them. Merit has no place in cronyism. The person that ends up getting the favour may not be competent enough to perform.
The major difference between nepotism and cronyism is that nepotism favours family and relatives i.e. people that are related by blood or marriage while cronyism favours friends. Nepotism can take place in all the areas where favouritism is applicable because humans tend to favour family first. Cronyism, on the other hand, is only applicable in cases whereby there is no competition between family and friends.
Nepotism does not always involve following all the orders of the superior because the superior is a family member while all orders must be followed to the last core in cronyism. Although both nepotism and cronyism are extensively practised in the political arena, nepotism has an upper hand i.e. a family member will always be given a special treatment than a friend.
A person employed or favoured through nepotism will always be in support of the person that favoured him out of love and not out of fear the favour might be withdrawn unlike the person favoured through cronyism. The person favoured through cronyism will show support out of fear.
• Nepotism and cronyism are two types of favouritism that has eaten deep into our system
• Both practices support not putting into consideration the qualification and the fitness of the person or people being favoured
• Both hurt brain labour.
• Both of them can cause depression and emotional set back to the qualified but not favoured applicant.
These two forms of favouritism have been in existence from time immemorial. It is like humans to choose family first, and then friends. Favouritism, in all its forms, may be a little different but they all are driving in the same direction which is corruption. Nepotism and cronyism always point to a part of our corrupt system that is common to all.
The real difference between nepotism and cronyism is the recipient of the favour. Favouritism, in these forms, harms different social contexts. Although not all the people that are favoured by these means are unqualified, most times favours through these means always come with an ulterior motive from the superiors that offer the favour. Often time, this ulterior motive may be harmful to the organization and the community at large. Nepotism and cronyism are, therefore, not advisable for a society that has the best interest of its members in mind.