The Price of Admission: Organizational Deference as Strategic Behavior

58 Pages Posted: 1 Oct 2016 Last revised: 10 Nov 2016

See all articles by Julien Jourdan

Julien Jourdan

Université Paris Dauphine

Rodolphe Durand

HEC Paris - Strategy & Business Policy

Patricia Thornton

Duke University

Date Written: September 1, 2016


Why would market organizations engage in symbolic and material acts conveying appreciation and respect to other organizations that confirm their inferior position in an established hierarchy? Deference, we argue, is the price outsider organizations pay to pass categorical and symbolic boundaries, and gain acceptance in contexts where insiders regard them as impure. Because not all organizations can or are willing to pay the price, deference varies according to positional, dispositional, and interactional characteristics. We examine and find support for the view of organizational deference as strategic behavior using empirical evidence on market finance organizations investing in film production in France over two decades. Our analysis expands research on non-conflictual interactions and symbolic boundaries in market settings.

Keywords: deference, symbolic boundaries, strategic management, organizations

Suggested Citation

Jourdan, Julien and Durand, Rodolphe and Thornton, Patricia, The Price of Admission: Organizational Deference as Strategic Behavior (September 1, 2016). AJS, Forthcoming; HEC Paris Research Paper No. SPE-2016-1174. Available at SSRN:

Julien Jourdan (Contact Author)

Université Paris Dauphine ( email )

Place du Maréchal de Tassigny
Paris, Cedex 16 75775

Rodolphe Durand

HEC Paris - Strategy & Business Policy ( email )

Jouy-en-Josas Cedex, 78351

Patricia Thornton

Duke University ( email )

100 Fuqua Drive
Durham, NC 27708-0204
United States

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