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Only another way station: status allocation in electronic networks of practice

Otner, Sarah (2013) Only another way station: status allocation in electronic networks of practice. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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The organizational literature concerning status has focused on its consequences more than its antecedents; moreover, the research that has addressed status origins has drawn its evidence from traditional face-to-face organizations, featuring task-focused and/or enduring groups. The present research addresses both of these literature gaps by examining how individuals in global, distributed, electronic networks of practice allocate status in a legitimate hierarchy. Taking as its context one of the first of these organizations – the SAP Community Network – this dissertation employed the DELPHI Method,, and panel data to leverage a research design that kept distinct status antecedents and outcomes, and yielded five distinct contributions to knowledge. First, it identified an unambiguous, unified structure of status – providing powerful clarification against its cognate constructs. Second, it challenged the attenuation principle of Status Characteristics Theory by suggesting that additional, similar status information does not contribute less to status allocation. Third, it indicated that the factors which effect status allocation differ depending on the level of status being determined; moreover, status establishment might function differently than either status maintenance or status enhancement. Fourth, the present research revealed that to the extent that status characteristics affect status allocation, they do so through the mechanism of performance; in other words, organizational culture can downgrade ascription and engage performance during status allocation. Fifth, the present findings challenge the argument for perpetual returns to initial high status – i.e., the Mertonian Matthew Effect – but do support Merton’s Phenomenon of the 41st Chair. Managerial practice must now recognize how organizational structure and culture can influence status allocation, which has implications for the strategic use of multiple routes to status in the achievement of organizational goals. Through focusing on a new, yet prevalent organizational form, the present research significantly advanced status theory in organizations.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2013 Sarah Otner
Library of Congress subject classification: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor > HD28 Management. Industrial Management
Sets: Departments > Management
Supervisor: Soane, Emma and Peccei, Riccardo

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