The Trajectory of Success in Hollywood: The Roller Coaster Careers of Film Directors

Hollywood Sign[We’re pleased to welcome Babis Mainemelis of The American College of Greece. Dr. Mainemelis recently published an article in Journal of Management Inquiry, entitled “Surviving a Boundaryless Creative Career: The Case of Oscar-Nominated Film Directors, 1967-2014” with co-authors Sevasti-Melissa Nolas of University of Sussex and Stavroula Tsirogianni of Canterbury Christ Church University.]

For the general public, individuals like Woody Allen, Robert Altman, Peter Bogdanovich, Francis Ford Coppola, Milos Forman, Stanley Kubrick, Mike Nichols, Alan Parker, Roman Polanski, Sydney Pollack, Martin Scorsese, and Steven Spielberg are among the most successful directors of Hollywood. In this paper we present the results of a biographical study which suggests that these filmmakers are not only successful, not only directors, and not only Hollywood. Despite the great variability in their stories, throughout their careers they all experienced iterative cycles of success
and failure, be it in critical acclaim and/or at the box office; they all enacted various roles other than of the director; and they all worked in contexts and media other than Hollywood and feature films.

We found that many of those transitions were JMI_72ppiRGB_powerpointrecursive, rather than linear, which suggests that directorial careers are not fixed in any single organization, short-term project, professional role, or medium. We also found that mobility to other professional roles or/and media is linked to and has implications for maintaining career alternatives; acquiring insider domain knowledge; calibrating social networks; renewing one’s creative energy; and protecting one’s creative freedom; without any of these drivers alone reliably increasing chances of success.

While past research has focused sharply on success as a career outcome, our paper offers a more balanced perspective and conceptualizes success and failure not as endings but as beginnings, as critical moments that influence the unfolding of boundaryless careers. An Oscar-winning blockbuster or a financial flop denigrated by the critics can exert such a great influence on careers that we may as well conceptualize success and failure as boundaries that mark the evolution of careers. While in the extant literature the dominant metaphors of boundaryless careers are those of “paths,” “ladders,” “trajectories,” and “plateaus,” our findings suggest a new metaphor: the roller coaster.

We believe that the findings of our study and the questions that we discuss above would potentially be interesting for researchers working in the fields of boundaryless careers and creative industries, but also for film students as well as industry practitioners struggling to make their way to film industry.

The abstract:

Previous research has examined how mobility and career competencies influence success in boundaryless careers. In this study, we flip the direction of those relationships and we explore how the interplay between success and failure relates to subsequent mobility, career competencies, and career evolution through the life span. Using a biographical design, we conceptualize success and failure as critical moments that influence the unfolding of the boundaryless careers of Oscar-nominated film directors. While the dominant metaphors of boundaryless careers are those of “paths,” “ladders,” “trajectories,” and “plateaus,” our findings suggest a new metaphor: the roller coaster.

You can read “Surviving a Boundaryless Creative Career: The Case of Oscar-Nominated Film Directors, 1967-2014” from Journal of Management Inquiry free for the next two weeks by clicking here. Want to know all about the latest research from Journal of Management Inquiry? Click here to sign up for e-alerts!

Pushing the Boundaries: Studying the Boundaryless Creative Careers of Film Directors

Oscars Awards

Creative careers can differ quite a bit from the average 9-to-5 desk job, but only some go so far as to defy boundaries in the way that boundaryless careers do. Individuals in boundaryless careers enjoy organizational mobility, geographical mobility, occupational mobility, the ability to work outside of organizational boundaries based on preference, and the ability to reject career opportunities for personal reasons. But how do these factors impact the path of a boundaryless career? In their article, “Surviving a Boundaryless Creative Career: The Case of Oscar-Nominated Film Directors, 1967-2014,” published in Journal of Management Inquiry, authors Charalampos Mainemelis of The American College of Greece, Sevasti-Melissa Nolas of University of Sussex, and Stavroula Tsirogianni of Canterbury Christ Church University studied the success and failures of Oscar-nominated film directors over their careers to determine how a boundaryless career might look in comparison with traditional office jobs.

The abstract from their paper:

Previous research has examined how mobility and career competencies influence JMI_72ppiRGB_powerpointsuccess in boundaryless careers. In this study, we flip the direction of those relationships and we explore how the interplay between success and failure relates to subsequent mobility, career competencies, and career evolution through the life span. Using a biographical design, we conceptualize success and failure as critical moments that influence the unfolding of the boundaryless careers of Oscar-nominated film directors. While the dominant metaphors of boundaryless careers are those of “paths,” “ladders,” “trajectories,” and “plateaus,” our findings suggest a new metaphor: the roller coaster.

You can read  “Surviving a Boundaryless Creative Career: The Case of Oscar-Nominated Film Directors, 1967-2014” from Journal of Management Inquiry by clicking here. Want to know all about the latest research from Journal of Management Inquiry? Click here to sign up for e-alerts!

*Oscars award picture credited to Global Panorama (CC)

Kim and Jensen (2011). How Product Order Affects Market Identity Repertoire Ordering in the US Opera Market

Republished with permission. The original post was published on the ASQ Blog.

Bo Kyung Kim – Southern Methodist University
Michael Jensen – University of Michigan

Simone Napolitano – University of Bologna
Paula Ungureanu – University of Modena and Reggio Emilia

Article link: http://

Question 1. A central tenet of this interesting study is the conceptual distinction between organizational and market identity: the latter constitutes the cognitive interface between organizations and external audiences and the former the central and most enduring features that constitute identity for internal audiences. How much do you think this difference between enduring parts and more flexible parts is important for the specific type of product offerings that you look at, i.e. opera repertoires?

[Michael] We distinguish between organizational and market identity to make it clear that we focus on external audiences (season ticket holders and opera critics) and how external audiences categorize opera companies. We were less interested in internal audiences (singers, musicians, administrators) and what internal audiences view as the enduring features of their opera companies and we are certainly not saying that organizational identity is not important, it is just not the focus of our study. That being said, I think that some features of opera are more enduring than other features, but I am not sure that there are features that are impossible to change. Many people would argue that un-amplified voice is a defining feature of opera, for example, and some people might even say that opera would not be opera with amplified voice. I don’t think so. Opera is already being simulcast in movie theaters and I do not think that most external audiences would stop categorizing opera as opera if voices were amplified. It is probably more constructive to think of more or less prototypical opera, and then begin to examine what features are more or less constraining for opera companies trying to increase their appeal to external audiences. And this question of constraining features and external appeal is, of course, perfectly generalizable to other contexts.

[Bo Kyung] I am with Michael that the focus of our paper is market identity, not organizational identity. Furthermore, what is interesting about our findings is that no matter what organizations think about themselves (or at least while controlling for this factor), they can attempt to change their appeal by changing the order of its product offerings. We did not specifically theorize or test about the differences between organizational and market identities, but my thought is that having certain offerings (such as staging modern opera) may have an impact on the identity of internal audiences (i.e. the central and enduring features of the organization), whereas changing the order of product offerings can have effects on how external audiences perceive opera repertoires and accordingly how they categorize these opera companies (cognitive interface between organizations and external audiences).

Question 2. Still in relation to market identity, in this study, as well as in other ones (Jensen, 2010; Jensen, Kim & Kim, 2011, Jensen & Kim, 2014) you define market identity as an interface between how an organization is perceived in the market based on membership in a set of relevant social categories and the organization’s efforts to influence such perceptions, based also on how the organization self-categorizes. How much do you think this interface is subject to negotiation in the U.S. opera industry and in other industries? How can we best capture the interplay between category assignment and self-categorization and what might future studies look at into greater detail?

[Michael] Building on my answer to the first question, I think the interface between organizations and their audiences are almost always subject to negotiations. Indeed, you can think about it analytically as a three-party negotiation: internal audiences – organization – external audiences. This is probably one of the oldest insights in organization theory, just think Cyert and March, Thompson, Pfeffer and Salancik, and so on. I guess what we are showing is that opera companies can at least influence if not control category assignment by manipulating the order in which they play conventional and unconventional operas. In a companion piece published in Organization Science in 2014, we looked more carefully at how external audiences help explain the composition (the mixing of conventional and unconventional operas) of opera repertoires. We have not, however, examined the interplay between category assignment by external audiences and self-categorization by internal audiences, but I am sure it would be very interesting to study the entire negotiation.

[Bo Kyung] I totally agree with Michael that negotiations (always) happen within this interface. Our paper shows one way how companies can negotiate better with external audiences by changing the order of product offerings. However, it is also possible to imagine other contextual conditions when self-categorization has positive or negative effects on external audiences’ category assignment. Or it would also be interesting to know more about whether the disagreement over external audiences’ category assignment and self-categorization may have negative or positive impacts on firm performance (and organizational identity). All things considered, I agree that there is more research to do in this context and within this theoretical framework.

Question 3. In a related way, you have focused on the U.S. opera market, which is known to have some characteristics that are different from the European market (i.e., heavier reliance on the market for funding, higher predilection for cross-overs and new products). Do you think a cross cultural study could highlight new aspects of market identity in the opera market in general, and of ordered market identity, in particular? Which do you think would be the challenges of such studies?

[Michael] Interesting question! I think the general idea that the order in which an organization presents a portfolio of products affects the market identity of the organization is generalizable to other cultural contexts. The importance of different types of external audiences is, however, likely to differ considerably from country to country, which could make it more or less important to appeal to different types of external audiences. Cross-cultural studies are fascinating! It is necessary, however, to make sure that cross-cultural differences are clearly identified (and everything else kept constant) to make strong inferences about what explains outcome differences. The international standardization of the opera repertoire certainly makes it easier to focus on institutional and cross-cultural differences in the way opera companies operate and opera performances are delivered to external audiences.

[Bo Kyung] DITTO! Our ordering argument will be applicable to different institutional contexts, but what different groups of external audiences may want and whether their tastes are convergent or divergent depend on contexts (Please refer to our OS (2014) for more information). It will be an interesting empirical question of how ordering effects may be moderated by contextual factors and how cross-cultural studies may help us better understand the scope conditions.

Question 4. You look at the ordering of operas in a repertoire along a temporal dimension where the central unit is the season: what would be the main methodological challenge for scholars wanting to study portfolio ordering effects in contexts where the difference between conventionality and unconventionality is at work but in a shorter time lag, such as film festivals or fashion weeks that last one or two weeks?

[Bo Kyung] For some opera companies, such as the Santa Fe Opera, their seasons have shorter time lag, such as a couple of weeks or a month (about 10 percent of companies in our sample). When testing our hypotheses, we controlled for these summer opera companies. The results show that summer opera company audiences are indeed less interested in purchasing season ticket sales (see Table 4). Summer opera companies are also receiving more critical attention (see Table 5), indicating that critics may prefer to cover companies within a shorter time lag (They don’t need to visit the same opera house several times during a year). However, our independent variable was statistically significant even when we included this summer opera dummy variable. The ordering of product offerings still matters in contexts with a shorter time lag. I agree that it would be interesting to examine any potential interaction effect between summer opera company and market identity order variables.

[Michael] Again, I think the general idea that the order in which an organization presents a portfolio of products affects the market identity of the organization is generalizable. A potential problem with studying film festivals and fashion weeks is that (as I understand film festivals and fashion weeks) no external audiences are expected to attend all the events because multiple events are scheduled at the same time. But I would not be surprised if the order in which the films that compete for festival awards are being screened affect the perception of the individual films and the quality of the overall program. It would be an interesting empirical question!

Question 5. The two hypotheses that you verify in the study tackle two different conceptualizations of appeal, that is appeal to season-ticket holders and appeal to opera critics; has this been seen as an issue by reviewers during the process? More generally, an interesting aspect of your study is the role played by critics in stretching the tension between artistic and commercial demands: is there any advice in terms of readings that you would give to PhD students willing to analyze this role in more depth?

[Michael] The reviewers did not bring up the distinction between season-ticket holders and opera critics. It was always part of our study. The reviewers did, however, ask us to repeat the analysis of critical coverage at the opera company level (model 6 in table 5), a request that we found reasonable. As to the question about readings about the role of critics, I am not sure that I can point to a particular source. Lots of interesting work has been published in sociology and management journals, but it is also important to check more specialized journals such as Journal of Cultural Economics and journals dedicated to the opera and the arts more broadly. I always love this part of the research process: read broadly, find stuff you didn’t even know existed, and become a better scholar! I wish we would spend more time on that rather than fighting with reviewers 😉

[Bo Kyung] I thought our conceptualization of the two different types of appeal, that is, appeal to season-ticket holders and appeal to opera critics, was indeed the appeal of our paper (what makes our paper interesting). In many cases, organizations may face several external audiences, in extreme cases oppositional external audiences like in our study, indicating that they need to take all of these groups into account. Also, I have been very interested in the role of critics in the art industry. There are many interesting papers about critics, both in sociology and psychology. I will name just a few of them below, but I am more than happy to discuss the topic further with anyone who is interested in!

Further readings
Alba, J. W. & Hutchinson, J. W. 1987. Dimensions of Consumer Expertise. Journal of Consumer Research, 13(4): 411.
Chi, M. T. H., Feltovich, P. J., & Glaser, R. 1981. Categorization and representation of physics problems by experts and novices. Cognitive Science, 5(2): 121-152.
Hsu, G. 2006. Evaluative schemas and the attention of critics in the US film industry. Industrial and Corporate Change, 15(3): 467-496.
Jensen, M. 2010. Legitimizing illegitimacy: How creating market identity legitimizes illegitimate products. Research in the Sociology of Organizations, 31, 39-80.
Jensen, M., Kim, B. K., & Kim, H. 2011. The importance of status in markets: A market identity perspective. Status in management and organizations, 87-117.
Jensen, M., & Kim, B. K. 2014. Great, Madama Butterfly again! how robust market identity shapes opera repertoires. Organization Science, 25(1), 109-126.
Shrum, W. M. 1996. Fringe and fortune: The role of critics in high and popular art. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Tanaka, J. W. & Taylor, M. 1991. Object categories and expertise: Is the basic level in the eye of the beholder? Cognitive Psychology, 23(3): 457-482.

No texting, plz! :)

laptop-and-cellphone-1269437-mIt can be discouraging for instructors who, after taking the time to prepare a lesson plan, find their students texting rather than taking notes in class. Educators across all disciplines and state lines are faced with the dilemma of how to respond. Is it a sign of disrespect or simply the burgeoning of a new generational divide?

A closer look at the numbers shows that the issue isn’t limited to a few problem students. A study conducted by Barney McCoy of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln found that of the 777 students surveyed, more than 80% admitted to using their phone for non-academic related reasons during class. Undergraduates were the heaviest users, reaching for their phones an average of 11 times per school day, while graduate students came in at an average of 4 uses. Business and Professional Communication Quarterly Editor Melinda Knight discusses this issue in her editorial entitled “What to Do About Texting?”

Right before the first required oral presentation in this class, I asked everyone once again to BPCQ.inddturn phones off and give full attention to each speaker. As I was saying this, one student, whom I had previously asked to stop texting on several occasions, continued to text away until I stopped speaking all together. Usually, this kind of dramatic action will help make everyone aware of the problem, yet for the rest of the semester I had only limited success in convincing students that texting during class and especially when others were giving presentations was not professional behavior. Worse yet, I continually had to answer the same questions from students who did not hear what we had previously discussed because of texting. Perhaps the apparent lack of respect for everyone, instructor and students, is what has bothered me the most about this problem.

You can read “What to Do About Texting?” and the March issue of Business and Professional Communication Quarterly free for the next two weeks! Click here to access the editorial and here to access the Table of Contents. Like what you read? Click here to sign up for e-alerts from Business and Professional Communication Quarterly!

A Behind-the-Scenes Look at Hollywood’s Gender-Wage Gap

JMI_72ppiRGB_powerpointKaley Cuoco recently learned the hard way to be careful what you say in an interview after her comments on feminism in the February issue of Redbook magazine provoked some harsh criticism from the media and fans alike. When asked if she considered herself a feminist, the 29-year old actress was quoted as saying “Is it bad if I say no? … I was never that feminist girl demanding equality, but maybe that’s because I’ve never really faced inequality.”

If it is true that she hasn’t run up against gender bias in her acting career, Cuoco is a rare case. The New York Film Academy looked at how women are portrayed in the top 500 films between 2007 and 2012 and found that only 30.8% of speaking characters were women, a third of which were shown partially naked or in sexually revealing clothing. They even found that this latter trend increased 32.5% for teenage actresses in the years studied.

What’s more, while the immediate backlash from her comments may have caused Cuoco to go on what she jokingly calls her “apology tour,” the sad truth is if she hasn’t experienced inequality yet, it might just be a matter of time. A recent study published in Journal of Management Inquiry entitled “Age, Gender, and Compensation: A Study of Hollywood Movie Stars” found that a female actor’s age may play an additional role in Hollywood’s gender-wage gap:

The abstract:

Research on the gender-wage gap shows equivocal evidence regarding its magnitude, which likely stems from the different wage-related variables researchers include in their calculations. To examine whether pay differentials solely based on gender exist, we focused on the earnings of top performing professionals within a specific occupation to rule out productivity-related explanations for the gender-wage gap. Specifically, we investigated the interaction of gender and age on the earnings of Hollywood top movie stars. The results reveal that the average earnings per film of female movie stars increase until the age of 34 but decrease rapidly thereafter. Male movie stars’ average earnings per film reach the maximum at age 51 and remain stable after that.

You can read “Age, Gender, and Compensation: A Study of Hollywood Movie Stars” from Journal of Management Inquiry for free by clicking here. Want to know about all the latest research like this? Click here to sign up for e-alerts from Journal of Management Inquiry!

A Cornucopia of Book Reviews!

Looking for holiday gift ideas or just a good read to relax with over the long weekend? We’ve provided you with three insightful book reviews to sink your teeth into.

80140100838090LSaru Jayaraman. Behind the Kitchen Door. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press/ILR Press, 2013. 208 pp. ISBN 978-0-8014-7951-9. $15.95 (Paperback).

Read the review by Janice Fine of Rutgers University, published in the October 2014 issue of ILR Review:

Behind the Kitchen Door is a powerful exposé of the labor practices of the contemporary restaurant industry intended to make the case that the treatment of workers is at least as instrumental to theILR_72ppiRGB_powerpoint goals of the burgeoning sustainable food movement as free-range chickens, grass-fed cows, or organic, locally sourced, non-GMO produce. Written by Saru Jayaraman, co-founder of the Restaurant Opportunities Center of New York (ROC-NY), which is the organization that emerged in the aftermath of the tragic deaths of 73 workers at the iconic Windows on the World restaurant on 9/11, the book is a trove of information about industry structure and employment practices.

9781780323091Órla Ryan. Chocolate Nations: Living and Dying for Cocoa in West Africa. London and New York: Zed Books, 2011. 182 pp. ISBN 978-184813-005-0. $14.95 (Paperback).

Franklin Obeng-Odoom of the University of Technology, Sydney, Australia published his review in Review of Radical Radical Political Economics.

This book is interesting, but strange. It is hard to dismiss, but difficult to call a masterpiece. The RRPE_v46_72ppiRGB_powerpointbook talks about two countries without being comparative, but in a way that helps comparative studies and thinking. This is a book about the raw material that is used to produce the chocolate you have been eating, about the fair trade you have been supporting, and about how the output of smallholder farmers acts as steroids for the economies of entire nations.

9781442208742_p0_v2_s260x420Wallach, Jennifer Jensen. How America Eats: A Social History of U.S. Food and Culture. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc, 2013. 240 pp. ISBN-13: 978-1442232188. $24.95 (paperback list).

13122087Bobrow-Strain, Aaron. White Bread: A Social History of the Store-bought Loaf. Boston, MA: Beacon Press, 2012. 257 pp. ISBN-13: 978-0807044780. $17.00 (paperback list).

Kim K. McKeage of Hamline University wrote a review of both of these books, which appeared in the Journal of Macromarketing.

From the titles, we get a hint that How America Eats: A Social History of U.S. Food and Culture and JMMK_new C1 template.inddWhite Bread: A Social History of the Store-bought Loaf occupy opposite ends of a spectrum. Both are social histories, and both are concerned with food, but one is a wide-ranging history of all things food related, while the other focuses on one item – commercial white bread. How America Eats is a rather impersonal account, while White Bread is embedded in the author’s own experiences and ethos. The differences in perspective, though, provide what turn out to be remarkably similar insights into American food history.

Happy reading!

Happy Thanksgiving from Management INK!

pumpkin-pie-1372787-mHappy Thanksgiving! In celebration of this American holiday, we’re happy to share some Thanksgiving Facts for all to digest!

  • Thanksgiving first became a holiday in 1863 when President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed the last Thursday of November as a national day of thanksgiving. Later, President Franklin Roosevelt clarified that Thanksgiving should always be celebrated on the fourth Thursday of the month to encourage earlier holiday shopping, never on the occasional fifth Thursday. (United States Census Bureau)
  • Male turkeys gobble. Hens do not. They make a clicking noise. (University of Illinois)
  • 424 million turkeys were forecasted to be raised in the United States in 2014. (United States Census Bureau)
  • 856 million pounds of cranberries and 2.4 billion pounds of sweet potatoes were forecasted to be produced in the U.S. in 2014 (USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service)
  • Sarah Josepha Hale, author of “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” persuaded Abraham Lincoln to declare Thanksgiving a national holiday by lobbying a campaign through the women’s magazine she edited and sending letters to politicians. (The Washington Post)

Bon appétit!