Micro Companies Best at Employing Autistic Savants

Drew Sansing  |  16/04/2023

A company’s size influences whether it is likely to be able to successfully employ and integrate savants into their workforce. According to a study in Germany, the most successful employers of savants appear to be “micro companies” or those with 10 employees or less. The next most successful group of employers is large companies or those with 250 employees or more. The small companies (10 - 49 employees) and medium companies (50 - 249 employees) are the least likely to employ savants and integrate them successfully.

In the study, through an online platform, interviews were taken of 459 randomly selected employees working at different sized companies. They were asked to rate their company with regard to how well the company considered the strength and limitations of savants and whether it provided them with appropriate working conditions. These responses generated numerical scores that determined a company’s overall rating with respect to whether it provided favorable employment conditions for savants. In micro companies, the mean total score was highest at .84 and it dropped to -3.91 and -4.06 for small and medium companies, respectively, but the mean total score increased to -.76 for the large companies.

The results were considered by the investigators to be surprising because large companies were expected to perform the best with respect to neurodiversity initiatives because they tend to be “quite ostentatious in their diversity efforts.” The outcome that micro companies were the most successful in accommodating savants was also interesting because it suggested that legislative efforts in the territory to support disabled individuals have been ineffective for savants because the legislative provisions in question that require companies to set aside jobs for people with disabilities do not apply to micro companies.

The investigators theorized that micro companies provide the best framework for working savants because they are able to provide more social support in the form of a family business structure, more direct lines of communication due to less bureaucracy and flatter hierarchical structures. They also suggested that larger companies may be the second most successful at employing savants because accommodating neurodiverse individuals requires investment in knowledge management that may not have an apparent guarantee of benefit, making such investments more risky for small to medium size companies that may lack the resources.

Although neurodiverse individuals need not limit themselves to only working at micro companies or large companies, this study suggests that these types of companies may be the best positioned to provide a welcoming workplace for them.

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