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Creative success and network embeddedness: Explaining critical recognition of film directors in Hollywood, 1900-2010

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  • Lutter, Mark

Abstract

This article analyzes how social network structures affect career success in a projectbased labor market. The literature on team success has shown that teams perform well if they integrate both weak and strong ties simultaneously. Applying the literature to careers in the creative industries, the study suggests that creative artists are more likely to receive critical recognition if they build their careers in both familiar project networks and heterogeneous sets of creative conventions. It is argued that familiarity and diversity operate as complementary elements in the development of innovative ideas. While diversity is important to maximize the flow of new ideas, it needs to be embedded within trustworthy and familiar network structures in order to fully develop its creative potential. The suggested mechanism is tested by means of full career data of 55,097 film directors, covering 478,859 directing jobs in 330,142 film productions during the years 1900-2010. It is shown that familiarity and diversity explain a considerable part of a director's critical success. Results from interaction effects show that diversity has greater effects on critical success if it is socially embedded within familiar social structures. The article contributes to the emerging understanding of the role of group processes and network structures in explaining individual career success.

Suggested Citation

  • Lutter, Mark, 2014. "Creative success and network embeddedness: Explaining critical recognition of film directors in Hollywood, 1900-2010," MPIfG Discussion Paper 14/11, Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies.
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:mpifgd:1411
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