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On Organizational Forms: Audience Expectations, Illegitimacy Discounts and Organizational Mortality



Beck N.


Wezel F. C.


Cruz Barrientos M. M.



Lead summary: This study aims at exploring the mechanisms behind the emergence of classification systems in order to meaningfully study the organizational forms. We therefore look at the relation between expectations of audience members and organizational responses to these expectations in the Bavarian brewing industry. Background: In the last two decades, the question the emergence of organizational forms has spurred new theoretical developments. In our project we build on the recent work that argues that organizational forms essentially stem from the shared agreement among producers and audience members (i.e., various relevant actors) concerning the relevant properties that the organizations belonging to a certain community should exhibit to be perceived as its legitimate members. In so doing we will focus on audience expectations as a key component behind the emergence of clear-cut categories/industrial classifications. Furthermore, we also acknowledge that expectations do not form in a social vacuum, but rather stem from the enduring and localized interactions among audience members. The general aim of the project is to shed light on compliance to such culturally embedded expectations as an essential component of organizational survival. Goal: The research project aims at extending this information in three steps: Firts we want to conduct a survey to nail down the role of cultural embeddedness in shaping the expectations concerning organizational authenticity. Then, we will use such information to map an organization-specific degree of compliance - or, conversely, deviance - from these expectations. In a third step, we conduct analyses on the survival consequences attached to such various degrees of compliance. Significance of the project: The question: "How do socially-constructed expectations constrain organizational conduct?" appears to be rather unresolved in the current literature. A deeper knowledge of the mechanisms behind the creation and the preservation of audience expectations is, however, crucial for our understanding of organizational forms Here, we want to show that organizational forms are anchored into socially-constructed expectations and pay special attention to organizational authenticity. Authenticity in fact has been agreed to be one of the key dimensions of an organization and is evaluated by external members. We want to increase the - so far rather limited - knowledge on formation of audience expectations concerning authenticity.

Additional information

Start date
End date
30 Months
Funding sources
Swiss National Science Foundation / Project Funding / Division I - Humanities and Social Sciences