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From La Bohème to La Wally: How Organizational Status Affects the (Un)conventionality of Opera Repertoires


  • Giulia Cancellieri

    () (IMT Lucca Institute for Advanced Studies)

  • Massimo Riccaboni

    () (IMT Lucca Institute for Advanced Studies)


In this paper we examine the relationship between organizational status and nonconformity in complex institutional fields characterized by the enduring tension between divergent institutional logics. First, we hypothesize the existence of an inverted U-shaped (IUS) relationship between status and nonconformity. Second, we argue that legitimacy and celebrity enhancing signals, that complement the external perception of a firm’s market identity, moderate the relationship between status and nonconformity, by springing up or inhibiting opportunities for firms to protect vs. raise their status position through high status patterns of affiliations. Specifically, we argue that while celebrity enhancing efforts reinforce middle status nonconformist behaviors by emphasizing the exceptional and positive valence of their nonconformist undertakings, legitimacy enhancing signals constraint middle status deviant behaviors and reverse the IUS curve. Unveiling the taken-for-granted traits of their identities hampers middle status ambition to raise the social hierarchy through nonconformity but fosters low and high status freedom of deviance through a reinforced security in their social position. We found strong support for our arguments in statistical analysis of 42 Italian opera houses repertoires from 2004 to 2011. We synthesize our findings by offering an integrated framework on how the interplay between status, legitimacy and celebrity enhancing signals affects organizations’ ability to depart from established institutional frameworks under conditions of institutional complexity.

Suggested Citation

  • Giulia Cancellieri & Massimo Riccaboni, 2015. "From La Bohème to La Wally: How Organizational Status Affects the (Un)conventionality of Opera Repertoires," Working Papers 5/2015, IMT Institute for Advanced Studies Lucca, revised May 2015.
  • Handle: RePEc:ial:wpaper:5/2015

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Spence, Michael, 1974. "Competitive and optimal responses to signals: An analysis of efficiency and distribution," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 7(3), pages 296-332, March.
    2. Podolny, Joel M & Phillips, Damon J, 1996. "The Dynamics of Organizational Status," Industrial and Corporate Change, Oxford University Press, vol. 5(2), pages 453-471.
    3. Rodolphe Durand & Hayagreeva Rao & Philippe Monin, 2007. "Code and conduct in French cuisine: Impact of code changes on external evaluations," Post-Print hal-00459450, HAL.
    4. James Heilbrun, 2001. "Empirical Evidence of a Decline in Repertory Diversity among American Opera Companies 1991/92 to 1997/98," Journal of Cultural Economics, Springer;The Association for Cultural Economics International, vol. 25(1), pages 63-72, February.
    5. Giuseppe Delmestri & Fabrizio Montanari & Alessandro Usai, 2005. "Reputation and Strength of Ties in Predicting Commercial Success and Artistic Merit of Independents in the Italian Feature Film Industry," Journal of Management Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 42(5), pages 975-1002, July.
    6. J. Pierce, 2000. "Programmatic Risk-Taking by American Opera Companies," Journal of Cultural Economics, Springer;The Association for Cultural Economics International, vol. 24(1), pages 45-63, February.
    7. David L. Deephouse & Suzanne M. Carter, 2005. "An Examination of Differences Between Organizational Legitimacy and Organizational Reputation," Journal of Management Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 42(2), pages 329-360, March.
    8. Rodolphe Durand & Hayagreeva Rao & Philippe Monin, 2005. "Border Crossing: Bricolage and the Erosion of Categorical Boundaries in French Gastronomy," Post-Print hal-00457938, HAL.
    9. Stigler, George J & Becker, Gary S, 1977. "De Gustibus Non Est Disputandum," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 67(2), pages 76-90, March.
    10. Mary Ann Glynn & Michael Lounsbury, 2005. "From the Critics' Corner: Logic Blending, Discursive Change and Authenticity in a Cultural Production System," Journal of Management Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 42(5), pages 1031-1055, July.
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    More about this item


    Status; Nonconformity; Institutional logics; Identity; Legitimacy; Celebrity; Opera and Arts;

    JEL classification:

    • M1 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Business Administration

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