Sub-theme 32: In or Out? Evaluators, Gatekeepers, and Gatekeeping Dynamics in Markets ---> MERGED with sub-theme 33

Philip Roscoe
University of St Andrews, United Kingdom
José Ossandón
Copenhagen Business School, Denmark
Frédéric Godart
INSEAD, France

Call for Papers

This sub-theme welcomes all researchers with an interest in evaluation and gatekeeping in markets and organizations. Defined as selecting who is “in or out,” and worthy to pass through a “gate” (Lewin, 1947) or join a category (Glynn & Lounsbury, 2005), gatekeeping provides a natural complement for many areas of organizational research, with insights about how the market interface works, joining production and consumption (Hirsch, 1972). A focus on gatekeepers and gatekeeping adds to our understanding of status, inequality, intermediary assessments, categories, evaluation, valuation, conformity, and other areas of keen interest to organizational researchers.
For example, gatekeepers like critics help consumers to make sense of products, and help producers to grasp consumers’ evolving tastes. We find frequent mention of gatekeeping in creative industries research (Long-Lingo & O'Mahony, 2010; Foster et al., 2011; Seong & Godart, 2018), but this classic theory sheds light onto the work of all sorts of intermediaries, from plastic surgeons (Menon, 2019) to procurement teams (O'Mahoney et al., 2013). Some have even suggested “gatekeeping studies” as a new field (Smits, 2016).
Although gatekeeping research was advanced in pioneering research by Lewin (1947), it has received relatively limited attention in organization theory and management. This situation is even more surprising given the theory’s popularity in sociology (see Corra & Willer, 2002) – notably with the work of Hirsch (1972) in the creative industries –along with cultural studies and communication. The small but growing stream of work in management has tended to look at specific contexts like hiring in firms (Rivera, 2012), evaluation of creativity in fashion (Seong & Godart, 2018), ratings of wine (Negro et al., 2010), and the gatekeeping of customers by art gallerists (Coslor et al., 2020).
Our focus on gatekeeping is also informed by both the positive and negative side of this process. One unique feature of a gatekeeping lens is that it can go beyond categorical coherence since gatekeepers often assess moral attributes (Anteby, 2010), from who should be allowed to buy human tissues, to the way professional service firms decline customers when there is a conflict of interest. These examples highlight positive outcomes of gatekeeping, but as a process involved with selection and exclusion, there are also powerful implications for inequality, from the gatekeeping noted by the #OscarsSoWhite movement to the exclusion of women from partnership in legal firms and the representation of minorities in books (Pescosolido et al., 1997).
In short, we are interested in the many diverse aspects of gatekeepers as actors involved with evaluation and the multiple outcomes of these processes and procedures of selection and interpretation. A gatekeeping lens is amenable to both qualitative and quantitative research, and we welcome methodologically diverse submissions. Together session participants will think deeply about gatekeeping in order to develop and enhance their own research ideas, along with help from the convenors and keynote speaker Giacomo Negro (Emory University).
We invite papers speaking to diverse topics, including:

  • Who are the gatekeepers? Are there new types of evaluative roles that might productively be studied under this lens, such as horse breeders?

  • What are the different types of gatekeeping/gatekeepers and how does this typology impact various gatekeeping processes?

  • How do intermediaries pursue gatekeeping and to what end?

  • How do expertise differences between gatekeepers and consumer audiences impact how producers adapt to market feedback?

  • How can a gatekeeper’s taste for novelty push the “taste frontier” in ways that are less relevant to consumer choices?

  • How do categories connect with gatekeeping activities? This might particularly be seen in the moral attributes of categories, an area showing show solid connection with key aspects of gatekeeping research previously, as well as with topics like stigmatization.

  • Should we be concerned about new dynamics for digital gatekeeping, e.g. Taleo HR systems and strict keyword searches for job applicants?

  • What external factors encourage changes to gatekeeping processes?

  • How do gatekeepers relate to the upstream (producers) and downstream (consumers) of markets?

  • Can gatekeeping be distributed, i.e. shared among various stakeholders who do not formally coordinate?



  • Anteby, M. (2010): “Markets, morals, and practices of trade: Jurisdictional disputes in the U.S. Commerce in cadavers.” Administrative Science Quarterly, 55 (4), 606–638.
  • Corra, M., & Willer, D. (2002): “The Gatekeeper.” Sociological Theory, 20 (2), 180–207.
  • Coslor, E.H., Crawford, B., & Leyshon, A. (2020): “Collectors, investors and speculators: Gatekeeper use of audience categories in the art market.” Organization Studies, 41 (7), 945–967.
  • Foster, P., Borgatti, S.P., & Jones, C. (2011): “Gatekeeper search and selection strategies: Relational and network governance in a cultural market.” Poetics, 39 (4), 247–265.
  • Glynn, M.A., & Lounsbury, M. (2005): “From the critics’ corner: Logic blending, discursive change and authenticity in a cultural production system.” Journal of Management Studies, 42 (5), 1031–1055.
  • Hirsch, P.M. (1972): “Processing fads and fashions: An organization-set analysis of cultural industry systems.” American Journal of Sociology, 77 (4), 639–659.
  • Lewin, K. (1947): “Frontiers in group dynamics: II. Channels of group life; social planning and action research.” Human Relations, 1 (2), 143–153.
  • Long-Lingo, E., & O’Mahony, S. (2010): “Nexus work: Brokerage on creative projects.” Administrative Science Quarterly, 55 (1), 47–81.
  • Menon, A.V. (2019): “Cultural gatekeeping in cosmetic surgery: Transnational beauty ideals in multicultural Malaysia.” Poetics, 75, 101354.
  • Negro, G., Hannan, M.T., & Rao, H. (2010): “Categorical contrast and audience appeal: Niche width and critical success in winemaking.” Industrial and Corporate Change, 19 (5), 1397–1425.
  • O’Mahoney, J., Heusinkveld, S., & Wright, C. (2013): “Commodifying the commodifiers: The impact of procurement on management knowledge.” Journal of Management Studies, 50 (2), 204–235.
  • Pescosolido, B.A., Grauerholz, E., & Milkie, M.A. (1997): “Culture and Conflict: The Portrayal of Blacks in U.S. Children’s Picture Books Through the Mid- and Late-Twentieth Century.” American Sociological Review, 62 (3), 443–464.
  • Rivera, L.A. (2012): “Hiring as cultural matching: The case of elite professional service firms.” American Sociological Review, 77 (6), 999–1022.
  • Seong, S., & Godart, F.C. (2018): “Influencing the influencers: Diversification, semantic strategies, and creativity evaluations.” Academy of Management Journal, 61 (3), 966–993.
  • Smits, R. (2016): “Gatekeeping and networking arrangements: Dutch distributors in the film distribution business.” Poetics, 58, 29–42.
Philip Roscoe is Reader in Management at the School of Management, University of St Andrews, United Kingdom. Philip is interested in markets, morals and organizing, and he has published in leading sociology and management journals, with books published by Oxford University Press and Penguin.
José Ossandón is Associate Professor in the Organization of Markets, Department of Organization, Copenhagen Business School, Denmark. His current collaborative research efforts focus on two main areas: the work and techniques deployed in the organization of markets designed to deal with collective problems; and on the different actors and practices involved in managing households’ finance.
Frédéric Godart is an Associate Professor of Organizational Behavior at INSEAD in France. His research explores the dynamics of creative industries, and he has published in top academic outlets such as the ‘Academy of Management Journal’, ‘Harvard Business Review’, ‘Organization Science’, ‘Organization Studies’, and ‘Strategic Management Journal’.