Sub-theme 29: Social Evaluations: Antecedents, Outcomes and the Process of Social Construction

Alexandre B. Bitektine
Concordia University, Canada
Patrick Haack
HEC Lausanne, Switzerland
Anastasiya Zavyalova
Rice University, USA

Call for Papers

Social evaluations pervade social reality. Actors at all levels – from individuals to organizations and to entire categories – are routinely subjected to social evaluations by their stakeholders, such as customers, investors, employees, and communities. These social evaluations represent assessments of different facets of actors and form a foundation for evaluators’ expectations, intentions, and actions. Several social evaluation constructs have been theoretically explored and empirically tested in previous research, including legitimacy (Suchman, 1995), reputation (Lange et al., 2011), status (Podolny, 1993), authenticity (Kovács et al., 2013), trustworthiness (Barney & Hansen, 1994), celebrity (Rindova et al., 2006), and stigma (Devers et al., 2009).
The growing interest in social construction of different types of social evaluations is motivated not only by the realization of the multilevel nature of the social evaluation processes and the need to address micro-to-macro aggregation of social judgments (Bitektine & Haack, 2015), but also by the growing complexity of the social settings, where “fake news”, “alternative facts”, “organized hypocrisy” and “informational warfare” have become a common practice. These factors create a new social reality that remains to be explored in organizational research. Furthermore, the polarization of Western society translates into the polarization of social judgments, and hence, increases the importance of negative social evaluations, such as stigma, illegitimacy, infamy, and social disapproval (Bundy & Pfarrer, 2015; Zavyalova et al., 2017; Zuckerman, 1999). The goal of this sub-theme is to facilitate a conversation about the social construction of social evaluations, encourage novel and insightful research, address unmet needs in application of social evaluations theory to managerial challenges, and create an international community of social evaluation scholars.
Specifically, this sub-theme seeks to advance our understanding of the process of social construction of social evaluations using different perspectives and diverse methodological approaches. Our sub-theme thus not only seeks to highlight the need for exploring the social construction of social evaluations, but also suggests going beyond single-level analyses (micro or macro) and providing explanations for how perceptions, judgments and actions at the micro level are linked to higher-level structures and outcomes (Bitektine & Haack, 2015) and vice versa (Haack & Sieweke, 2018). In our sub-theme, we seek to advance research on social evaluations that explicitly models the process of social construction of different types of social evaluations across levels of analysis and that develops theory about the underlying factors and contingencies of this social construction process. The sub-theme also aims to explore the foundational differences between positive and negative social evaluations and nuances in the processes of their social construction. Furthermore, we aim to explore how the growing trends in communications and information sharing and new technologies, such as social media, affect how the process of social evaluations formation unfolds.
In addition to welcoming conceptual and empirical contributions that examine the process of social construction of social evaluations, the sub-theme encourages submissions which complement the methodological toolkit in social evaluations research, explore correlations and interactions of different types of evaluations, and rigorously test the fundamental propositions and conditions suggested in extant research. We believe that the exploration of these and other prominent topics with novel methods can not only provide validation to many of the literature’s tenets and open new directions for future research, but also advance our understanding of the construction of social evaluations, especially in post-truth environments, where the truth value of facts is replaced by frequency of repetition or consistency with stereotypes and world views.
In line with these considerations, we invite (but do not by any means restrict) submissions addressing one or several of the following questions:

  • How are different types of social evaluations socially constructed? What is the role of individuals, social networks, mainstream media, social media, authorities, and other actors in this process? In particular, what is the role of social media in disseminating information about organizations and influencing social evaluations?

  • Which methodological tools can be used to identify and delineate underlying processes and mechanisms that operate within positive and negative social evaluations? What are the opportunities and pitfalls of mixed-methods approaches in exploring the multiple levels of social evaluations?

  • Various actors have been actively engaged not only in the interpretation of “objective” facts, but also in the social construction of “alternative” facts. What are the processes and mechanisms through which these alternative facts are constructed and objectified? What are the consequences of this trend for mass media, social media, and other types of actors implicated in this process? How can research on social evaluations integrate these new realities of “post-truth politics”?

  • Since fake news and alternative facts have primarily been discussed at the level of society and politics, we have limited knowledge of these dynamics in the context of organizations and organizing. How do actors perceive, make sense of and react to post-truth politics in organizational contexts?

  • Since increased use of social media as an information source has contributed to the development of informational echo chambers, that is, communities of like-minded actors whose exposure to alternative viewpoints is limited, what are the organizational consequences of these polarization processes?

  • Do “fake” or “real” communications make a difference? Do evaluators take communications at face value? How do they render their judgments when the uncertainty around the truth value of the information is heightened? Is social construction based on fakes as sturdy as social construction based on real facts?

  • What prompts evaluators to make (un)favorable evaluations of an organization and under what conditions (Bundy & Pfarrer, 2015; Zavyalova et al., 2016)? Can social evaluations be a liability at the micro-level, but a benefit at the macro-level (or vice-versa)?

  • It has been observed that evaluators who do not endorse an entity privately may nonetheless believe that others perceive it as appropriate and therefore silence their unfavorable judgments (Bitektine & Haack, 2015). Under which conditions do evaluators disclose their silenced judgments, stop conforming to that entity’s behavioral prescriptions, and engage in institutional change efforts (Tost, 2011)?



  • Barney, J.B., & Hansen, M.H. (1994): “Trustworthiness as a source of competitive advantage.” Strategic Management Journal, 15, 175–190.
  • Bitektine, A., & Haack, P. /2015): “The macro and the micro of legitimacy: Towards a multi-level theory of the legitimacy process.” Academy of Management Review, 40 (1), 49–75.
  • Bundy, J., & Pfarrer, M.D. (2015): “A burden of responsibility: The role of social approval at the onset of a crisis.” Academy of Management Review, 40 (3), 345–369.
  • Devers, C.E., Dewett, T., Mishina, Y., & Belsito, C.A. (2009): “A general theory of organizational stigma.” Organization Science, 20 (1), 154–171.
  • George, G., Dahlander, L., Graffin, S.D., & Sim, S. (2016): “Reputation and status: Expanding the role of social evaluations in management research.” Academy of Management Journal, 59 (1), 1–13.
  • Haack, P., & Sieweke, J. (2018): “The legitimacy of inequality: Integrating the perspectives of system justification and social judgment.” Journal of Management Studies, 55 (3), 486–516.
  • Huy, Q.N., Corley, K.G., & Kraatz, M.S. (2014): “From support to mutiny: Shifting legitimacy judgments and emotional reactions impacting the implementation of radical change.” Academy of Management Journal, 57 (6), 1650–1680.
  • Kovács, B., Carroll, G.R., & Lehman, D.W. (2013): “Authenticity and consumer value ratings: Empirical tests from the restaurant domain.” Organization Science, 25, 458–478.
  • Lange, D., Lee, P.M., & Dai, Y. (2011): “Organizational reputation: A review. “Journal of Management, 37 (1), 153–184.
  • Podolny, J.M. (1993): “A status-based model of market competition.” American Journal of Sociology, 98, 829–872.
  • Rindova, V.P., Pollock, T.G., & Hayward, M.L.A. (2006): “Celebrity firms: The social construction of market popularity.” Academy of Management Review, 31 (1), 50–71.
  • Sinclair, R.C. (1988): “Mood, categorization breadth, and performance appraisal. The effects of order of information acquisition and affective state on halo, accuracy, information retrieval, and evaluations.” Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 42 (1), 22–46.
  • Suchman, M.C. (1995): “Managing legitimacy: Strategic and institutional approaches.” Academy of Management Review, 20 (3), 571–610.
  • Tost, L.P. (2011): “An integrative model of legitimacy judgments.” Academy of Management Review, 36 (4), 686–710.
  • Zavyalova, A., Pfarrer, M.D., Reger, R.K., & Hubbard, T.D. (2016): „Reputation as a benefit and a burden? How stakeholder’s organizational identification affects the role of reputation following a negative event.” Academy of Management Journal, 59 (1), 253–276.
  • Zuckerman, E.W. (1999): “The categorical imperative: Securities analysts and the illegitimacy discount.” American Journal of Sociology, 104 (5), 1398–1438.

Alexandre B. Bitektine is an Associate Professor of Management at JMSB, Concordia University, Canada. His research interests include social judgments (legitimacy, status, reputation, trust, and others), institutional theory, entrepreneurship, sustainable development, as well as application of experimental methods in organizational research. In his research, he seeks to integrate multi-level approach and findings from microsociology and social psychology into institutional theory and organization studies. Alex currently serves as a member of editorial review boards of the ‘Academy of Management Learning’, the ‘Journal of Management Studies and Organization Studies’, and he is an active reviewer for several other leading management journals.
Patrick Haack is an Assistant Professor of Business Ethics in the Strategy Department at HEC Lausanne, Switzerland. His primary research interests include social judgment formation, practice adoption, and recent developments in research methodology, especially the application of experiments and formal modelling approaches to the study of institutionalization and legitimation. Patrick’s research has been published in the ‘Academy of Management Annals’, ‘Academy of Management Review’, ‘Journal of Management Studies’, and ‘Organization Studies’. He currently serves on the editorial boards of the ‘Academy of Management Review’, ‘Business & Society’, and ‘Organization Studies’.
Anastasiya Zavyalova is an Assistant Professor of Strategic Mmanagement at the Jesse H. Jones Graduate School of Business, Rice University, USA. Her research focuses on socially responsible and irresponsible organizational actions that build, damage, and restore social approval assets, such as reputation and celebrity. Anastasiya’ work has been published in the ‘Academy of Management Journal’, the ‘Academy of Management Review’, and the ‘Strategic Management Journal’.