Sub-theme 51: Valuation and Evaluation within and across Organizations

Charlotte Cloutier
HEC Montréal, Canada
Jean-Pascal Gond
City University London, UK
Louis-François Brodeur
HEC Montréal, Canada

Call for Papers

Sociologists have long been interested in the notion of value and how it is "produced, diffused, assessed and institutionalized" (Lamont, 2012: 214). Individuals and groups (e)valuate things, people and actions everywhere and all the time. In order to attribute and assess value, people require means, measures and calculative devices, which are neither straightforward nor uncontroversial (Boltanski & Thévenot, 2006; Callon, 1998; Callon & Muniesa, 2005). Such are the central topics of interest to the sociology of valuation and evaluation (SVE).

Growing reliance on market measures for evaluating areas of life previously under the realm of alternative standards (e.g., well-being, beauty, quality), notably in areas where they were previously absent, has created discomfort and resistance among many social actors (Bidet & Vatin, 2009). Indeed, more and more "modern social institutions spend considerable time and effort measuring what seems unmeasurable and valuing what seems beyond valuation in the service of enhancing their own capacities for calculation, crafting new opportunities for profit, or expanding their jurisdictional authority" (Fourcade, 2011: 1723). Recently, scholars have taken note of this and have expressed a need to synthesize and renew this body of work in an effort to theorize more systematically about how people attribute and asses value in everyday life (Lamont, 2012; Vatin, 2013).

Although interest in these phenomena is increasing, the related topic of organizational valuation and evaluation has yet to be the subject of an explicit sociological research agenda (Bidet & Vatin, 2009; Karpik, 2010; Lamont, 2012). This explains why "[w]e need to open a new chapter of thought at the crossroads of sociology, economics, and management: to think about value and valuation in the activity of work itself" (Vatin 2013: 46). A number of possible lines of inquiry can be pursued in this light.

Exploring grounds other than the economic (e.g., cultural, symbolic, emotional) for valuing and evaluating beings, practices and things:

  • Where do notions of worth or value come from? How are they created, maintained, transformed, replaced and/or disposed of?
  • How are specific (e)valuation practices such as those enacted by accounting norms, performance measures, recruiting methods, stock price and/or insurance valuations are formed?
  • How does the simultaneous presence of multiple and sometimes contradictory (e)valuative practices, norms and processes foster complexity in organizations? How does this complexity affect organizations, their members and/or their collaborators?

Enriching our understanding of institutional processes:

  • What is the role of different practices of (e)valuation in institutional processes of diffusion, disruption, creation and maintenance?
  • How are (e)valuation processes impacted by culture, routines and/or resource dependencies?
  • How do organizational actors cope or enact defense mechanisms when (e)valuation measures that concern them are based on criteria they deem inappropriate?
  • What is the role played by social movements, professional bodies and standards setting organizations (such as the ISO or IFRS norms) in securing and maintaining accepted measures of worth?

Exploring micro-processes of organization, particularly within the practice perspective:

  • How do new (e)valuation practices emerge in, between and across organizations? How do individuals and groups react when confronted with alternative (e)valuation practices?
  • How are goods not easily amenable to economic evaluations in organizations (such as social license to operate, reputation, externalities, contribution to society, etc.) made commensurable?
  • How are different (e)valuation practices used to legitimize or justify decisions and action in and around organizations? How do they affect organizational forms and processes?

In light of these many exciting opportunities, we invite papers from a range of theoretical and methodological approaches that explicitly address organizational practices of valuation and evaluation within and across organizations. The list above is by no means exhaustive nor limitative. We look forward to reading your ideas and contributions!




  • Bidet, A., & Vatin, F. (2009): "Mesure et acteur au travail." In: F. Vatin (ed.): Évaluer et valoriser: Une sociologie économique de la mesure. Toulouse: Presses Universitaires du Mirail, pp. 1–22.
  • Boltanski, L., & Thévenot, L. (2006): On Justification: Economies of Worth. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
  • Callon M. (1998): The Laws of the Markets. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers.
  • Callon, M., & Muniesa, F. (2005): "Economic markets as calculative collective devices." Organization Studies, 26 (8), 1229–1250.
  • Espeland, W., & Stevens, M. (1998): "Commensuration as a social process." Annual Review of Sociology, 24, 312–343.
  • Fourcade, M. (2011): "Cents and sensibility: Economic valuation and the nature of 'nature'." American Journal of Sociology, 116 (6), 1721–77.
  • Karpik, L. (2010): Valuing the Unique. The Economics of Singularities. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
  • Lamont, M. (2012): "Toward a comparative sociology of valuation and evaluation." Annual Review of Sociology, 38 (1), 201–221.
  • Vatin, F. (2013): "Valuation as evaluating and valorizing." Valuation Studies, 1 (1), 31–50.


Charlotte Cloutier is Assistant Professor of Strategy at HEC Montréal, Canada. Her research focuses primarily on strategizing activities and practice in pluralistic organizations.
Jean-Pascal Gond is Professor of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) at Cass Business School, UK. His research, which investigates the social construction of CSR and the performativity of management theories, has been published in 'Business Ethics Quarterly', 'Organization Science', 'Organization Studies', and the 'Journal of Management Studies'.
Louis-François Brodeur is PhD candidate at HEC Montréal, Canada. Under the supervision of Ann Langley, his research explores academic freedom in universities as a norm of professional autonomy from a perspective inspired by practice theory, recent developments in institutional theory and the sociology of valuation and evaluation.