The Matthew Effect as an Unjust Competitive Advantage: Implications for Competition Near Status Boundaries
Forthcoming in Journal of Management Inquiry
6 Pages Posted: 2 Oct 2017 Last revised: 12 Oct 2017
Date Written: October 12, 2017
Merton often envisioned status growth as a process of stepping across a boundary between one status grade and another, more elite status grade. Such boundaries include the border between graduate school and a top academic department that young researchers try to traverse, or the frontier between scientists outside the French Academy and scientists inside the French Academy. Since it is now common to measure status continuously using network data, the behavioral ramifications of status boundaries have been understudied in recent research. In this essay, we focus on competitive behaviors that emerge near a status boundary because of the desirability — as well as the “double injustice” — of the Matthew Effect. Offering insights for future research, we discuss how these competitive behaviors are likely to delay, or even derail, status growth for those who are near a status boundary.
Keywords: Competition, Status, Tournament, Matthew Effect
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