Sub-theme 31: Dynamic Status Hierarchies, Categorization Processes and Markets

François Collet
ESADE Business School, Spain
University of Lausanne, Switzerland
Rodolphe Durand
HEC Paris, France

Call for Papers


Status can be defined as a position within a social structure that confers prestige and privileges upon an actor according to ascribed and achieved criteria (Parson, 1970). An actor's rank in this hierarchy affects others' perceptions and actions towards it and thereby the opportunities and constraints it faces in the market (Jensen, 2008; Jensen & Roy, 2008; Podolny, 1994). Status influences a very a wide range of market outcomes such as segmentation (Phillips & Zuckerman, 2001; Podolny, 2001), price formation (Benjamin & Podolny, 1999), responses to information disclosures (Lup, 2009), the formation and dissolution of exchange ties (Jensen, 2006; Podolny, 1994), the probability of being preyed upon when entering a new market (Podolny, 1999) or the elicitation of commitment and efforts in partner relationships (Castellucci & Ertug, 2010).

Prior research has typically investigated established and stable status hierarchies. Little is known, however, about their emergence and evolution (for some insights, see Bothner et al., 2010). We hope to discuss theoretical and empirical research which advances this research topic.

Actors are included or excluded from a status group according to their possession of specific status-conferral attributes (Jasso, 2001). There are two types of attributes or signals that enable peers and audiences to rank a focal actor within a status hierarchy (Jasso, 2001). The first type of status signals is category-based. At individual level, such attributes can be gender, ethnicity, or the possession of an academic degree. At organizational level, it can mean for instance being a nouvelle cuisine chef in the gastronomy industry, a high-fashion designer in the fashion industry, or a blockbuster-producing studio in the movie industry. The second type of status signal is relation-based. The status of an actor is also defined by its pattern of relationships and associations (Podolny & Phillips, 1996; Podolny, 2001).

We welcome research which focuses on how actors learn to deal with these different types of status signal, how they interpret them, and even try to influence them rather than just reacting to them. More knowledge on these processes is needed in order to understand the emergence and evolution of status hierarchies.

Furthermore, the categories used by intermediaries have consequences for producers in mediated markets (Zuckerman, 1999). The dynamics of the evolution of the category systems used by intermediaries are therefore of interest to understand the dynamics of status hierarchies. We particularly welcome research about processes of categorizations and the particular role of intermediaries in mediated markets which can contribute to explain the emergence and evolution of status hierarchies. The intersection between categories and hierarchical systems also raises the question of whether category systems be designed to achieve particular objectives (foster the growth of new actors, cooperation between actors).

Finally we are open to all submissions which can contribute to advance research on status by establishing bridges with other streams of research, exploring new theoretical grounds, investigating original empirical studies or developing novel research methods.

We propose a non-exhaustive list of research questions:

  • How do status attributes emerge? How do they evolve?
  • To what extent are actors' views of a status hierarchy influenced by external constraints exerted by peers and audiences?
  • How do organizational and individual actors construct their view of a status hierarchy?
  • How do market intermediaries contribute to the definition and valuation of market categories?
  • What actions can actors take to influence the definition of a status category in a way that can enhance their position in a status hierarchy?
  • How do category-based and relation-based status signals interact in the determination of an actor's position within a status order?




Benjamin, B.A. & J.M. Podolny (1999): "Status, Quality and Social Order in the California Wine Industry." Administrative Science Quarterly, 44 (3), 563–589

Bothner, M.S., E.B. Smith & C.W. Harrison (2010): "A Model of Robust Positions in Social Networks." The American Journal of Sociology, 116 (3), 943–992
Castellucci, F. & G. Ertug (2010): "What's in it for them? Advantages of Higher-Status Partners in Exchange Relationships." The Academy of Management Journal, 53 (1), 149–166
Jasso, G. (2001): "Studying status: an integrated framework." American Sociological Review, 66 (1), 96–124
Jensen, M. (2008): "The use of relational discrimination to manage market entry: When do social status and structual holes work against you?" Academy of Management Journal, 51 (4), 723–743
Jensen, M. & A. Roy (2008): "Staging exchange partner choices: When do status and reputation matter?" Academy of Management Journal, 51 (3), 495–516

Lup, D. (2009): Status as a Magnifying Glass: The Effect of Status on the Reaction to News about Performance. Paper for the Academy of Management Conference

Parsons, T. (1970): "Equality and Inequality in Modern Society, or Social Stratification Revisited." Sociological Inquiry, 40 (2), 13–72

Phillips, D.J. & E.W. Zuckerman (2001): "Middle status conformity: Theoretical restatement and empirical demonstration in two markets." American Journal of Sociology, 107 (2), 379–429
Podolny, J. & D. Phillips (1996): "The dynamics of organizational status." Industrial and Corporate Change, 5 (2), 453
Podolny, J.M. (1994): "Market uncertainty and the social character of economic exchange." Administrative Science Quarterly, 39 (3), 458–483.
Podolny, J.M. (1999): "Social Status, Entry and Predation: The Case of British Shipping Cartels: 1879–1929." The Journal of Industrial Economics, XLVII (1), 41–67
Podolny, J.M. (2001): "Networks as the pipes and prisms of the market." American Journal of Sociology, 107 (1), 33–60
Zuckerman, E.W. (1999): "The categorical imperative: Securities analysts and the illegitimacy discount." American Journal of Sociology, 104 (5), 1398–1438


François Collet François Collet is Assistant Professor at ESADE Business School, Spain. He is interested in social networks in labor markets, dynamics networks and status. He has published a comparative review of Herbert Simon’s concept of habit and Bourdieu’s concept of habitus with some implications for economic sociology in Sociological Theory.
 Déborah Philippe is Assistant Professor at the Faculty of Business and Economics at the University of Lausanne, Switzerland. She is interested in explaining how organizations can strategically manage their external social evaluations (i.e., status, legitimacy, reputation). She has a paper currently in press at the Strategic Management Journal on the relationship between conformity and reputation.
Rodolphe Durand Rodolphe Durand is the GDF-Suez professor of Strategy at HEC-Paris where he chairs the Strategy department, and is in charge of the MBA and PhD specialization. He graduated from HEC (MSc and PhD) and La Sorbonne (MPhil). His primary research interests concern the social and institutional sources of competitive advantage and organizational performance, in particular in settings where conformity pressures are strong. His works have been published in journals including American Journal of Sociology, Academy of Management Review, and Strategic Management Journal. Rodolphe received national and international awards including the “R. Scott Award” (American Sociological Association, 2005), the “HEC Foundation Best paper of the year (2006 and 2009), and the “Euram/Imagination Lab award for innovative scholarship” (2010). He initiated the “Society and Organizations” research center at HEC ( Rodolphe is also a prolific author of books, including Guide du Management Stratégique (Dunod, 2003), Organizational Evolution and Strategic Management (Sage, 2006), Strategor (co-editor, Dunod, 2009) and L’Organisation Pirate (Bord de l’Eau, 2010, coauthored with JP Vergne).