A new take on the categorical imperative: Gatekeeping, boundary maintenance, and evaluation penalties in science

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Title: A new take on the categorical imperative: Gatekeeping, boundary maintenance, and evaluation penalties in science
Authors: Fini, R
Jourdan, J
Perkmann, M
Toschi, L
Item Type: Journal Article
Abstract: Extant theory suggests that candidates with an unfocused identity – those spanning different categories - suffer from a valuation penalty because evaluators are confused by their profile, and concerned they lack the required skills. We argue that unfocused candidates may be penalized for another reason: they threaten established social boundaries. This happens in contexts where evaluators act as gatekeepers for social entities such as professions. We test how the penalty applied to unfocused candidates varies in an academic accreditation process, a setting where evaluators decide on admitting candidates to an academic discipline and where candidates’ prior performance is observable. We find, using data on the 2012 national scientific qualification in Italian academia, that the valuation penalty applied to unfocused (multi-disciplinary) candidates was most pronounced for the most high-performing candidates. High-performing yet ill-fitting candidates threaten the distinctiveness and knowledge domain of the discipline and are hence penalized by evaluators. High-performing multidisciplinary candidates suffered the greatest penalty in small and distinctive academic disciplines and when accreditors were highly typical members of their discipline. Our theory and findings suggest that the categorical imperative may not only be driven by cognitive or capability considerations, as typically argued in the literature, but also by attempts to maintain social boundaries.
Issue Date: 22-Jul-2022
Date of Acceptance: 7-May-2022
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10044/1/97336
DOI: 10.1287/orsc.2022.1610
ISSN: 1047-7039
Publisher: Institute for Operations Research and Management Sciences
Journal / Book Title: Organization Science
Copyright Statement: © 2022 The Author(s).https://doi.org/10.1287/orsc.2022.1610,usedunder a Creative Commons Attribution License:https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.” This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 InternationalLicense. You are free to copy, distribute, transmit and adapt this work, but you must attribute this workas“Organization Science.
Keywords: Social Sciences
Management
Business & Economics
category spanning
social valuation
social boundaries
boundary work
multidisciplinary research
science
SOCIAL IDENTITY
WORK
SELF
CATEGORIZATION
ENTREPRENEURSHIP
TRANSFORMATION
CERTIFICATION
CONSTRUCTION
OCCUPATIONS
PERFORMANCE
Category spanning
social valuation
social boundaries
boundary work
multidisciplinary research
science
Business & Management
1503 Business and Management
1505 Marketing
Publication Status: Published online
Online Publication Date: 2022-05-09
Appears in Collections:Imperial College Business School



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