Status, Quality, and Attention: What's in a (Missing) Name?
How much are we influenced by an author's identity when evaluating his or her work? This paper exploits a natural experiment to measure the impact of status signals in the context of open standards development. For a period of time, e-mails announcing new submissions to the Internet Engineering Task Force would replace individual author names with "et al." if submission volumes were unusually high. We measure the impact of status signals by comparing the effect of obscuring high- versus low-status author names. Our results show that name-based signals can explain up to three-quarters of the difference in publication rates between high- and low-status authors. The signaling effect disappears for a set of prescreened proposals that receive more scrutiny than a typical submission, suggesting that status signals are more important when attention is scarce (or search costs high). We also show that submissions from high-status authors receive more attention on electronic discussion boards, which may help high-status authors to develop their ideas and bring them forward to publication. This paper was accepted by Jesper Sørensen, organizations.
Volume (Year): 57 (2011)
Issue (Month): 2 (February)
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