Date of Award

5-2017

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Major

Business Administration

Major Professor

Rhonda K. Reger

Committee Members

Annette L. Ranft, David W. Williams, Luiz R. Lima

Abstract

Organizational researchers are increasingly interested in how organizations are perceived by their constituents, because such perceptions have important implications for strategy formulation, strategy implementation and organizational outcomes. In this two-essay dissertation, I focus on a specific type of social approval asset, celebrity – the extent to which a social actor attains high levels of public attention and elicits positive emotional responses. Specifically, I examine how celebrity emerges at different organizational levels.

In Essay 1, I first develop a theoretical multilevel framework of business celebrity, building on agenda setting theory and framing theory. Second, I propose a typology of business celebrity based on the different types of media narratives that foster its creations at different organizational levels. Third, I develop a set of theoretically driven propositions to examine contingency factors under which specific types of media causal attributions are more likely to emerge.

In Essay 2, I empirically test under what conditions celebrity is more likely to emerge at the CEO or organizational level. On a sample of U.S. firms and CEOs from the Fortune 500 and the Unicorns lists, I investigate the role of organizational competitive actions, temporal information and communication materials in determining the development of celebrity at different organizational levels.

Taken together the two essays examine the media attributional processes behind the development of individual and organizational celebrity. Specifically, this dissertation proposes theoretical arguments and empirical tests to suggest that individual and organizational celebrity emerge as journalists develop causal attributions about business events, and imprint those attributions in their reporting about organizational life. Moreover, the development of individual and organizational celebrity can be characterized as a frame dispute affected by not only the media understanding of specific events, but also by the agency exerted by organizations and their members in promoting specific interpretative frames, through communication materials.

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