Please contact me if you have trouble accessing a paper via the link.

From Audience to Evaluator: When Visibility into Prior Evaluations Leads to Convergence or Divergence in Subsequent Evaluations Among Professionals

Collective evaluation processes, which offer individuals an opportunity to assess quality, have transcended mainstream sectors (e.g., books, restaurants) to permeate professional contexts from within and across organizations to the gig economy. This paper introduces a theoretical framework to understand how evaluators’ visibility into prior evaluations influences the subsequent evaluation process: The likelihood of evaluating at all and the value of the evaluations that end up being submitted. Central to this discussion are the conditions under which evaluations converge—are more similar to prior evaluations—or diverge—are less similar—as well as the mechanisms driving observed outcomes. Using a quasi-natural experiment on a platform where investment professionals submit and evaluate investment recommendations, I compare evaluations that are made with and without the possibility of prior ratings influencing the subsequent evaluation process. I find that when prior ratings are visible, convergence occurs. The visibility of prior evaluations decreases the likelihood that a subsequent evaluation occurs by about 50% and subsequent evaluations become 54% to 63% closer to the visible rating. Further analysis suggests that peer deference is a dominant mechanism driving convergence, and only professionals with specialized expertise resist peer deference. Notably, there is no evidence that initial ratings are related to long-term performance. Thus, in this context, convergence distorts the available quality signal for a recommendation. These findings underscore how the structure of evaluation processes can perpetuate initial stratification, even among professionals with baseline levels of expertise.

Organization Science, 2024 forthcoming

The Sociology of Entrepreneurship Revisited

with Ranjay Gulati and Olav Sorenson

Over the last two decades, the sociology of entrepreneurship has exploded as an area of academic inquiry. Most of this research has been focused on understanding the environmental conditions that promote entrepreneurship and processes related to the initial formation of an organization. Despite this surge in activity, many important questions remain open. Only more recently have scholars begun to turn their attention to what happens to organizations, and the people connected to them, as they mature and move through the “lifecycle” of entrepreneurship. These open questions, moreover, connect to many classic themes in the literatures on careers, organizational sociology, stratification, and work and occupations. Using a framework that focuses on three phases of the entrepreneurial lifecycle—pre-entry, entry, and post-entry—we summarize sociological research on entrepreneurship and highlight opportunities for future research.

Annual Review of Sociology, 2024 50: forthcoming

The Evaluation of Founder Failure and Success by Hiring Firms: A Field Experiment

with Melody Chang

Winner, 2020 Best Entrepreneurship Paper, Academy of Management (OMT Division)

Nominee, 2019 Best Paper, Strategic Management Society

Media Coverage: Financial Times, Yale Insights

Organizations tout the importance of innovation and entrepreneurship. Yet, it remains unclear how they evaluate entrepreneurial human capital—namely, job candidates with founder experience. How hiring firms evaluate this experience, and especially how this evaluation varies by entrepreneurial success and failure, reveals insights into the structures and processes within organizations. Organizations research points to two perspectives related to the evaluation of founder experience: Former founders may be advantaged, due to founder experience signaling high-quality capabilities and human capital, or disadvantaged, due to concerns related to fit and commitment. To identify the dominant class of mechanisms driving the evaluation of founder experience, it is important to consider how these evaluations differ depending on whether the founder's venture failed or succeeded. To isolate demand-side mechanisms and hold supply-side factors constant, we conducted a field experiment. We sent applications varying the candidate's founder experience to 2,400 software engineering positions in the US at random. We find that former founders received 43% fewer callbacks than non-founders and that this difference is driven by older hiring firms. Further, this founder penalty is greatest for former successful founders, who received 33% fewer callbacks than former failed founders. Our results highlight that mechanisms related to concerns about fit and commitment, rather than information asymmetry about quality, are most influential for how hiring firms evaluate former founders in our context.

Organization Science, 2023 34(1): 484-508

The Disciplining Effect of Status: Evaluator Status Awards and Observed Gender Bias in Evaluations

with Marina Gertsberg

Media Coverage: Yale Insights

We theorize that status awards will have a disciplining effect on evaluators, changing how they evaluate. Specifically, status awards will lead evaluators to place less weight on unreliable indicators of candidate quality, such as gender. We test this theory using data from restaurant evaluations on Yelp, focusing on the relationship between an evaluator’s restaurant rating and their reporting of being served by a man or a woman in their review text. We leverage Yelp’s evaluator status award (“Elite”) to analyze whether observed gender bias in the star ratings awarded to restaurants decreases after an evaluator receives this status award. We find that evaluators rate restaurants more similarly after receiving the award, regardless of whether they report being served by a man or a woman. Status awards in our context close the gender gap in restaurant ratings by 56.5% (a 0.07 stars improvement out of an initial rating gap of -0.13 stars). This reduction in gender bias is mostly due to a decrease in the number of extremely low (1 star) ratings in reviews that reference female servers. Research on status and evaluations has mostly focused on how evaluators react to increases in candidate status. We demonstrate the importance of evaluator status as a mechanism for decreasing observed gender differences in evaluations.

Management Science, 2022 68(7): 4755-5555

Here’s an Opportunity: Knowledge Sharing among Competitors as a Response to Buy-in Uncertainty

Winner, 2015 Best Student Paper, Academy of Management (OMT Division)

Media Coverage: Yale Insights

Although knowledge sharing among competitors is seemingly counterintuitive, scholars have found that competitors share knowledge under certain conditions: among actors who have a preexisting relationship and who expect direct reciprocity. However, there are examples of knowledge sharing among competitors that cannot fully be explained using these relational mechanisms. In this study, I propose that in markets where competitors are a set of key stakeholders, knowledge sharing is a strategic response to high levels of buy-in uncertainty related to a potential opportunity, namely, the likelihood that stakeholders will come to realize the value of a potential opportunity in a timely fashion. Using a unique data set of knowledge sharing among investment professionals on a digital platform, this study leverages variation in the platform’s knowledge-sharing structure to test this theory. I find that knowledge sharing among these competitors is most likely when buy-in uncertainty for a given opportunity is high and that this knowledge sharing does lead to subsequent buy-in.

Organization Science, 2018 29(6): 1033–1055

Pursuing Quality: How Search Costs and Uncertainty Magnify Gender-based Double Standards in a Multistage Evaluation Process

with Mabel Abraham

Runner-up, 2018 Mark Granovetter Best Article Prize

Media Coverage: Bloomberg, New York Post, Quartz, Rotman's Institute for Gender + the Economy, Worth, Yale Insights

Despite lab-based evidence supporting the argument that double standards—by which one group is unfairly held to stricter standards than another—explain observed gender differences in evaluations, it remains unclear whether double standards also affect evaluations in organization and market contexts, where competitive pressures create a disincentive to discriminate. Using data from a field study of investment professionals sharing recommendations on an online platform, and drawing on status theory, we identify the conditions under which double standards in multistage evaluations contribute to unequal outcomes for men and women. We find that double standards disadvantaging women are most likely when evaluators face heightened search costs related to the number of candidates being compared or higher levels of uncertainty stemming from variation in the amount of pertinent information available. We rule out that systematic gender differences in the actions or characteristics of the investment professionals being evaluated are driving these results. By more carefully isolating the role of this status-based mechanism of discrimination for perpetuating gender inequality, this study identifies not only whether but also the conditions under which gender-based double standards lead to a female disadvantage, even when relevant and objective information about performance is readily available.

Administrative Science Quarterly, 2017 62(4): 698-730

Please contact me if you are interested in a copy of one of the below papers.

Returns to Status and Gender

with Mabel Abraham

Performance, Status, and Evaluations

with Mabel Abraham and James Carter

Peer Evaluations: Social Influence and Ratings Among Professionals

Disparities in Online Labor Markets

with Katherine A. DeCelles

Innovation-Driven Entrepreneurship

with Daniel Fehder and Yael Hochberg

NBER Working Paper 28990

Entrepreneurship and Labor Market Re-Entry

with Daniel Fehder and Milan Miric

Rating Scales and Inequality

with Sora Jun, Demetrius Humes, and Katherine A. DeCelles

Status and Hiring

with J. Daniel Kim

Failure and Careers

with Matt Marx

Entrepreneurship and Evaluations

with Ethan Poskanzer

Customer Discrimination and Discrimination Amplification

with Fei Teng and K. Sudhir

Copyright 2024 - Tristan L. Botelho