Sub-theme 49: Social Evaluations: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

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

Call for Papers

Social actors, individuals and organizations, rely on social evaluations for their success. They are routinely subjected to social evaluations by their stakeholders, such as customers, investors, employees, and communities. These 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), and celebrity (Rindova et al., 2006).
The importance of social evaluations for organization’s success has been growing with the increasing number of information sharing channels, including social media and online rating sites. They now play a critical role in determining whether organizations survive or fail (Etter et al., 2019). These information sharing channels play by different rules than those used by mainstream media. Furthermore, the lack of norms of professional conduct in some channels enables spread of unverified and over-dramatized information. As a result, social evaluations of organizations have become more polarized than ever before (Zavyalova et al., 2017), and negative social evaluations, such as stigma, illegitimacy, infamy, and social disapproval, gained particular importance (Bundy & Pfarrer, 2015; Zavyalova et al., 2017; Zuckerman, 1999).
The goal of the sub-theme is to facilitate a conversation about the emergence and evolution of positive and negative 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, the sub-theme seeks to advance our understanding of the process of social construction of opposing social evaluations using different perspectives and diverse methodological approaches. It thus not only seeks to highlight the need for exploring the social construction of social evaluations, but also suggests going beyond the narrow focus on a single social approval construct. Instead, we seek to advance research on the ecology of social evaluations and the co-existence of positive and negative social evaluations, be it among different stakeholder groups and among evaluators within a particular stakeholder group, but with varying values and beliefs.
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 seek to examine whether negative social evaluations can be conceived of as the empirical and conceptual opposite of a positive counterpart or should rather be theorized and tested as a separate construct, which is distinct not only in valence but also in kind (Suddaby et al., 2017). We also aim to explore how the growing trends in communications, information sharing, and new technologies affect the process of social evaluation formation.
In addition to welcoming conceptual and empirical contributions that examine positive and negative social evaluations, the sub-theme encourages submissions that 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 and evolution of social evaluations.
In line with these considerations, we invite (but do not by any means restrict) submissions addressing one or several of the following questions:

  • Why do some social actors simultaneously gain positive and negative social evaluations? How fleeting is each of these assets and how do they co-exist?

  • How do different types of social evaluations interact with or relate to each other?

  • How do different measures of social evaluations relate to each other and to the evaluation constructs they are supposed to measure?

  • How does the process of gaining various social evaluations unfold during an organization’s lifetime?

  • What is the role of various information sharing channels in supporting or obstructing the processes of gaining positive social evaluations? What determines the susceptibility of evaluators to information disseminated by third parties?

  • 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?

  • 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?



  • Barney, J.B., & Hansen, M.H. (1994): “Trustworthiness as a Source of Competitive Advantage.” Strategic Management Journal, 15 (Special Issue), 175–190.
  • 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.
  • Etter, M.A., Ravasi, D., & Colleoni, E. (2019): “Social Media and the Formation of Organizational Reputation.” Academy of Management Review, 44 (1), 28–52.
  • Kovács, B., Carroll, G.R., & Lehman, D.W. (2013): “Authenticity and Consumer Value Ratings: Empirical Tests from the Restaurant Domain.” Organization Science, 25 (2), 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 (4), 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.
  • Suchman, M.C. (1995): “Managing Legitimacy: Strategic and Institutional Approaches.” Academy of Management Review, 20 (3), 571–610.
  • Suddaby, R., Bitektine, A., & Haack, P.( 2017): “Legitimacy.” Academy of Management Annals, 11 (1), 451–478.
  • Zavyalova, A., Pfarrer, M.D., & Reger, R.K. (2017): “Celebrity and Infamy? The Consequences of Media Narratives About Organizational Identity.” Academy of Management Review, 42 (3), 461–480.
  • Zuckerman, E.W. (1999): “The Categorical Imperative: Securities Analysts and the Illegitimacy Discount.” American Journal of Sociology, 104 (5), 1398–1438.
Anastasiya Zavyalova is an Associate Professor of Strategic Management at the Jesse H. Jones Graduate School of Business, Rice University, Houston, 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’s work has been published in the ‘Academy of Management Journal’, the ‘Academy of Management Review’, and the ‘Strategic Management Journal’.
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. Alexandre currently serves as a member of editorial review boards of the ‘Academy of Management Learning’, ‘Journal of Management Studies’ and ‘Organization Studies’, and he is an active reviewer for several other leading management journals.
Patrick Haack is a Professor of Strategy at HEC (Business School), University of 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. His research has been published in the ‘Academy of Management Annals’, ‘Academy of Management Review’, ‘Journal of Management Studies’, and ‘Organization Studies’. Patrick currently serves on the editorial boards of the ‘Academy of Management Review’, ‘Business & Society’, ‘Journal of Management Studies’, and ‘Organization Studies’.