Discrimination of Excellence


Discrimination of Excellence

in cooperation with

The Parsons School of Design



New York University


Awareness Building Advocacy

at Washington D.C.

Fall 2019


Discrimination of Excellence

Library of Congress

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Project inception


University of Vienna

in cooperation with

Princeton University

August 2019

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Banca d’ Italia Workshop

November 2019


Washington, D.C., Judiciary Square & The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine

May 2019

Discrimination is unjust or prejudicial treatment of different categories of people or things.  Long-standing, ample evidence of discrimination and most important attempts exist to legally abolish, economically counter-weight and societally alleviate the negative impacts of discrimination around the world.  Yet to this day, there is hardly any description of discrimination of excellence.  Unfair treatment of outperformers occurs when focusing away from merit leads to economic inefficiency based on arbitrary decision making excellent outperformers face mostly put up by relative underperformers who fear not being able to keep up with outperformance.


The first part of the project is dedicated to excellence as something unique that is only given in a few.  The study of excellence is enriched with interdisciplinary perspectives — for instance, studying how en vogue trends are first only accepted by only a few pioneers, who are then over time followed by the masses. Retrospectively, these new ground-breaking trends survive in history and are considered as excellent and brilliant innovation.

The project intellectually draws from law, economics, sociology, psychology and cultural studies.

Arts, fashion and lifestyle products are driven by luxury, another form of excellence only reachable by the elite.  Artistic leadership in the luxury world appears somewhat resistant to discrimination of excellence.  In a collaboration with the Parsons School of Design and New York University, the project argues that there is an implicit acceptance of excellence if coupled with artistic beauty, unique creativity in a transfer of ideas and deprecating endurance – all features that high-end luxury usually represents.  Artistic excellence appears to be too beautiful and unique to fail and artists are often suffering anyhow, so why put them down?  Leadership against discrimination of excellence is proposed to learn from excellence represented by luxury in the cultural and artistic worlds.  Luxury may hold unprecedentedly captured, cheap and easily-implementable remedies against discrimination of excellence.  In three case studies and a historical methods of research, the paper unravels the main drivers of artistic excellence and what is unique in luxury that makes it resistant to people’s envy and destruction.   Unique luxury features are finally be discussed to be proposed to lead academia but also economics in combating economically-suboptimal and societally-hurtful discrimination of excellence.




Media: The Business Edge Interview, The Future of Financing Freedom



Puaschunder, J.M. (2020). Review of the Making Marvels: Exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, New York. Luxury: History, Culture, Consumption, 5, 3, 265-280.



Puaschunder, J.M. & Beerbaum, D. (2020). The Future of Healthcare around the World: Four indices integrating Technology, Productivity, Anti-Corruption, Healthcare and Market Financialization. Research Association for Interdisciplinary Studies Conference Proceedings of the 18th Interdisciplinary RAIS conference at Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey, United States, August 17-18. [Held online due to COVID-19]

Puaschunder, J.M., Gelter, M. & Sharma, S. (2020). COVID-19-Shock: Socio-Technological, Legal, Corporate, Economic and Governance Changes. Research Association for Interdisciplinary Studies Conference Proceedings of the 18th Interdisciplinary RAIS conference at Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey, United States, August 17-18. [Held online due to COVID-19]

Puaschunder, J.M. (2020). When success fails you: On the Law and Economics of the Discrimination of Excellence, 46th Eastern Economic Association Conference, Boston Sheraton, Boston, Massachusetts, United States, February 29.

Puaschunder, J.M. (2019). Discrimination of Excellence. Advocacy at Banca d’Italia, Dipartimento Economia e Statistica, Servizio Struttura economica, Divisione Economia e diritto, Via Nazionale, Roma, Italy, November 8.

Puaschunder, J.M. (2019). Discrimination of Excellence: A research agenda. 14th International Research Association for Interdisciplinary Studies (RAIS) conference at the Erdman Center of Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey, USA, August 19-21.



Serdari, T. & Puaschunder, J.M. (work in progress). How to  not stop progress: What we can learn from luxury.

Puaschunder, J.M. (2019). Discrimination of Excellence: A research agenda. Proceedings of the 14th International Research Association for Interdisciplinary Studies (RAIS) conference at the Erdman Center of Princeton University, pp. 54-58, Princeton, New Jersey, USA, August 19-21.


Social media coverage of teaser

German in New York







Theoretically, the project introduces discrimination of excellence legally including the most recent case of standardized admission test outperformers suing a U.S. higher education institution over fair admission standards and admission fraud scandals coupled with an economic modeling of socio-economic losses implied by discriminating against strivers.  The societal value of outperformers will be outlined in Veblen’s trickling down of excellence, The American Dream ideals of striving being an economic driver as well as political science comparisons of different regimes’ conduct around excellency.  The social psychology categorization of society into so-called ‘ingroups’ and ‘outgroups’ is spearheaded with integrating ‘übergroups’ as natural strivers who face unprecedently captured discrimination.  Socio-psychological motives – such as envy, jealousy, inferiority complex, reputation greed and suboptimal group norms – explain discrimination towards outperformance to provide coping and alleviation strategies.  Intergenerational aspects and leadership features of discrimination of excellence are proposed.

Empirically, qualitative case studies, diary technique collected data and an external review report in the higher education sector vividly outline discrimination based on excellence (Study 1).  Qualitative analyses of PhD studies blog entries reveal a pattern of outperformers being forced out of higher educational institutions to successfully continuing in higher-ranked institutions (Study 2).  Evidence of intangible admission criteria, unfair testing situations and delayed or unsuccessful academic promotion statistics serve as additional evidence on discrimination based on excellence.  Resistance to share information on testing and promotion criteria transparently is detected to allow for discrimination (Study 3).  Macro-economic analyses reveal industries that are prone to breed discrimination based on excellence (Study 4) to estimate the short- and long-term losses of discrimination of excellence based on economic trickling down and too-big-to-fail arguments but also Keynes’ multiplier innovatively applied in endogenous growth theory alongside including health and societal risks in the wake of discrimination (Study 5).  Macro-economic cross-sectional and time series analyses in the laboratory of modern world history outline socio-economic costs of slowing outperformers and abolishing intellectual advancement (Study 6).  Artificial intelligence increasing the currently unprecendently wide divide between skilled and unskilled labor is predicted to even higher importance of attention to excellency in the future (Study 7).

Legal codifications, economic action and public policy making as well as corporate workplace incentives can foster performance free from discrimination.  Outperformers and underperforming segments should transfer coping in lieu of performance strategies and strategically align in the striving towards discrimination-free economy and society.  Awareness building, transparency and mandatory access to information on hiring, testing and promotion criteria appear as natural remedies besides legal action to combat excellency-discriminating individuals and institutional structures.  The research provides a truly heterodox economics standpoint on reconsidering discrimination in a novel light with attention to those who are put down due to their stellar excellence outshining underperformers, whose inappropriate discriminatory conduct deserves to be left behind for the sake of upholding individual well-being derived from dignity, economic prosperity grounded in respect for striving and societal advancement founded on excellency.


Please mention you feel discriminated against for excellence anytime at Julia.Puaschunder@newschool.edu

Disclosure statement:

Financial and in-kind support of the Banca d’Italia in Rome and a European Parliament European Liberal Forum research division is gratefully acknowledged.


Work in progress