Sub-theme 05: [SWG] Valuation and Social Evaluations: Giving Value to Evaluations

Ana M. Aranda
Católica Lisbon, Portugal
Julien Jourdan
HEC Paris, France
Thomas Roulet
University of Cambridge, United Kingdom

Call for Papers

The distinction between the judgement or “assessment of value” (evaluation) and the identification of what produces value (valuation) is often ignored despite its crucial importance for unpacking the processes of human interactions (Vatin, 2013). Valuation is crucial to the social construction of evaluations (Fini et al., 2018), and actors’ values is often what determine the nature and valence of the social evaluation they produce (Chen et al., 2012). Inversely, social evaluations can drive shifts in the values that drive behaviors (Roulet, 2019). It is assumed that both valuation and evaluation involve a great dose of subjectivity and biases, but we know very little about the similarities and differences between those two processes, and their complex relationship.
The ordering and hierarchy of values necessarily impact the way social actors evaluate each other to the point it is often seen as a fundamental source of inequality in modern societies (Lamont, 2012). For example, the way we value work influences the way we perceive the welfare state and unemployed individuals (van Oorschot et al., 2012). Research on the moral foundations of psychology show that humans are driven by moral impulse such as fairness and loyalty, ultimately driving their judgement (Haidt, 2012). Inversely, how do the social evaluations of practices and actors recursively affect deeply ingrained values? For example, when individual voices are marginalized, their values also become less central (Clemente & Roulet, 2015). How can values be themselves evaluated? Values, when they are beneficial to some stakeholder groups, can be instrumentally legitimized by these groups (Patriotta et al., 2011). How do actors approach values as a function of the social evaluation they can secure? We know for instance that actors may recognize the values of others to be positively evaluated and join the in-group (Jourdan et al., 2017).
Because evaluation and valuation are closely intertwined (Fini et al., 2018), studying their interactions could yield novel contributions to the field of organization studies. The field of social evaluations has burgeoned in the last two decades, but at the same time, it remains highly fragmented (Pollock et al., 2019; Roulet, 2020), and considering the alignment between valuation and evaluation has the potential to solve the existing definitional challenges (Bitektine, 2011). Uncovering the underlying values that drive evaluations can help us understand how evaluations diffuse within organizational and individual populations (Aranda et al., 2020). With the emergence of new phenomena fuelled by social media, such as conspiracy theories, fake news and the so called cancel culture, actors can use social evaluations of others to advance their own values and vision of the world (Allcott & Gentzkow, 2017), punish opponents (Bitektine & Haack, 2015), or advance their private interests (Roulet, 2020).
Positive evaluations often mean adherence to dominant values (Heugens & Lander, 2009). But the deviance from existing values can paradoxically generate positive evaluations, because of the visibility and distinctiveness it generates (Roulet, 2020). Inversely, adherence to existing values may not always be rewarded, and playing with existing codes does not necessarily translate into positive evaluations (Fitzmaurice, 2017). In this sense, perfect objects or actors (i.e. those who adhere closely to the values of a field or group) can often be negatively evaluated, while imperfect ones (i.e. those who deviate the most from those values) can on the contrary receive positive evaluations.
The link between valuation and evaluation has been explored from a variety of perspectives, including not only institutional theory (Taupin, 2012; Clemente & Roulet, 2015) and stakeholder theory (Shymko & Roulet, 2017), but also classic sociological perspective such as Boltanski’s & Thevenot’s orders of worth (Thevenot & Boltanski, 2006; Reinecke, 2010) or Bourdieu’s theory of symbolic and cultural capital (Bourdieu, 1986; Lamont, 2012). Considering both valuation and evaluation and their interaction offers fruitful opportunities to develop those theoretical perspectives. While the orders of worth perspective can enrich the theoretical link between valuation and evaluation, this theoretical link can also inform established perspective in organization studies such as institutional logics (Thornton & Ocasio, 2008) or stakeholder theory (Freeman et al., 2020).

  • How do individual, organizational and societal values drive social evaluations, from their production to their diffusion?

  • To what extent can differences among actors and the consequences of those differences (i.e. inequality, gender imbalances, etc.) bias their evaluation?

  • Can we attribute a price, monetary or utility value to social evaluations?

  • How do values at the societal level and their cultural determinants influence the construction and the impact of social evaluations? How can institutions condition social evaluations?

  • How can the way we produce social evaluations affect our norms and beliefs with regards to valuation?

  • What are the implications of the interaction between valuation and evaluation for entrepreneurs? How do societal values affect the decision of individuals to become entrepreneurs? How do social evaluations influence the allocation of resources to entrepreneurs?

  • Why and how do stakeholder groups legitimize institutions? By contrast, why and how do stakeholder groups stigmatize institutions?

  • How do actors use social media to produce social evaluations to advance their values? How is social media used as a platform to revert changing social evaluations or to maintain the “status quo”?

  • How can we mobilize Boltanski' & Thevenot’s orders of worth to understand social evaluations? Inversely, how can the link between values and evaluations inform our understanding of institutional logics?

  • How can cultural and symbolic capital act as a bridge between valuation and evaluation?



  • Allcott, H., & Gentzkow, M. (2017): “Social media and fake news in the 2016 election.” Journal of Economic Perspectives, 31 (2), 211–236.
  • Aranda, A.M., Conti, R., & Wezel, F.C. (2020): “Distinct but not apart? Stigma reduction and cross-industry evaluative spillovers: The case of medical marijuana legalization.” Academy of Management Journal, first published August 10, 2020.
  • Bitektine, A. (2011): “Toward a theory of social judgments of organizations: The case of legitimacy, reputation, and status.” Academy of Management Review, 36 (1), 151–179.
  • Bitektine, A,.& Haack, P. (2015): “The ‘macro’ and the ‘micro’ of legitimacy: toward a multilevel theory of the legitimacy process.” Academy of Management Review, 40 (1), 49–75.
  • Bourdieu, P. (1986): “The Forms of Capital.” In: J.G. Richardson (ed.): Handbook of Theory and Research for the Sociology of Education. New York: Greenwood Press, 241–258.
  • Chen, Y.R., Peterson, R.S., Phillips, D.J., Podolny, J.M., & Ridgeway, C.L. (2012): “Introduction to the Special Issue: Bringing Status to the Table – Attaining, Maintaining, and Experiencing Status in Organizations and Markets.” Organization Science, 23 (2), 299–307.
  • Clemente, M., & Roulet, T.J. (2015): “Public opinion as a source of deinstitutionalization: A ‘spiral of silence’ approach.” Academy of Management Review, 40 (1), 96–114.
  • Fini, R., Jourdan, J., & Perkmann, M. (2018): “Social Valuation across Multiple Audiences: The Interplay of Ability and Identity Judgments.” Academy of Management Journal, 61 (6), 2230–2264.
  • Freeman, R.E., Phillips, R., & Sisodia, R. (2020): “Tensions in stakeholder theory.” Business & Society, 59 (2), 213–231.
  • Fitzmaurice, C. (2017): “How rosé became high class: Categorical divestment and evaluation.” Poetics, 61, 1–13.
  • Haidt, J. (2012): The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion. New York: Pantheon Books.
  • Heugens, P.P.M.A.R., & Lander, M.W. (2009): “Structure! Agency! (and other quarrels): A meta-analysis of institutional theories of organization.” Academy of Management Journal, 52 (1), 61–85.
  • Jourdan, J., Durand, R., & Thornton, P.H. (2017): “The price of admission: Organizational deference as strategic behavior.” American Journal of Sociology, 123 (1), 232–275.
  • Lamont, M. (2012): “Toward a comparative sociology of valuation and evaluation. Annual Review of Sociology, 38 (1), 201–221.
  • Patriotta, G., Gond, J.-P., & Schultz, F. (2011): “Maintaining legitimacy: Controversies, orders of worth, and public justifications.” Journal of Management Studies, 48 (8), 1804–1836.
  • Pollock, T.G., Lashley, K., Rindova, V.P., & Han, J.H. (2019): “Which of These Things Are Not Like the Others? Comparing the Rational, Emotional and Moral Aspects of Reputation, Status, Celebrity and Stigma.” Academy of Management Annals, 13 (2), 444–478.
  • Reinecke, J. (2010): “Beyond a subjective theory of value and towards a ‘fair price’: an organizational perspective on Fairtrade minimum price setting.” Organization, 17 (5), 563–581.
  • Roulet, T.J. (2019): “Sins for some, virtues for others: Media coverage of investment banks’ misconduct and adherence to professional norms during the financial crisis.” Human Relations, 72 (9), 1436–1463.
  • Roulet, T.J. (2020): The Power of Being Divisive: Understanding Negative Social Evaluations. Stanford: Stanford University Press.
  • Shymko, Y., & Roulet, T.J. (2017): “When does Medici hurt da Vinci? Mitigating the signaling effect of extraneous stakeholder relationships in the field of cultural production.” Academy of Management Journal, 60( 4), 1307–1338.
  • Taupin, B. (2012): “The more things change... Institutional maintenance as justification work in the credit rating industry.” M@n@gement, 15 (5), 529–562.
  • Thévenot, L., & Boltanski, L. (2006): On Justification: Economies of Worth. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
  • Thornton, P.H., & Ocasio, W. (2008): “Institutional logics.” The SAGE Handbook of Organizational Institutionalism, 840, 99–128.
  • van Oorschot, W., Reeskens, T., & Meuleman, B. (2012): “Popular perceptions of welfare state consequences: A multilevel, cross-national analysis of 25 European countries.” Journal of European Social Policy, 22 (2), 181–197.
  • Vatin, F. (2013): “Valuation as evaluating and valorizing.” Valuation Studies, 1 (1), 31–50.
Ana M. Aranda is an Assistant Professor at Católica Lisbon, Portugal. Her research focuses on contested industries and explores questions related to regulations and social evaluations of organizations, such as stigma and legitimacy. She is also interested in methodological applications, particularly so, in the usage of topic models in management research. Ana’s work has been published in the ‘Academy of Management Journal’ and ‘Research in the Sociology of Organizations’.
Julien Jourdan is an Associate Professor at HEC Paris, France His research is focused on the social evaluation of organizations by stakeholders in relation to business and corporate strategy. Julien’s work appears in major academic journals, including ‘Academy of Management Journal’, ‘American Journal of Sociology’, and ‘Strategy Science’.
Thomas Roulet is an Associate Professor in Organisation Theory at the Judge Business School, and the Fellow in Sociology & Management Studies at Girton College, both at the University of Cambridge, UK. His work builds on institutional and stakeholder perspectives to approach negative social evaluations (stigma, scandal). Thomas has published, among others, in the ‘Academy of Management Journal’, ‘Academy of Management Annals’, and “Academy of Management Review’.