A good article about the absurd pedigree-based hiring practices of U.S. universities:
What that means is something every Ph.D. from a less-prestigious institution knows all too well: No amount of publishing, teaching excellence, or grants can compensate for an affiliation that is less than favorable in the eyes of a search committee. The fate of aspiring professors is sealed not with job applications but with graduate-school applications. Institutional affiliation has come to function like inherited wealth. Those who have it operate in a different market, more immune from the dark trends – unemployment, adjunctification – that dog their less-prestigious peers.
The same trend holds true in academia: career stagnation based on institutional affiliation. Where you come from remains cruelly indicative of where you will go. What you actually do on the journey is, to the status-obsessed, irrelevant.
Fortunately, this seems not yet to be true for European universities, at least not in philosophy, to the same extent. Which means that it is advisable for people from non-top programs who have good publications or who are great teachers to come looking for a position in Europe.