Tao Wang defends his Ph.D. dissertation “Who Needs it and Who Cares? Essays on Social Evaluation and Organizational Response“.

The oral defense will be held Monday, March 23rd, 2015, 2 pm, (Building A, Room 1108).

The Defense Committee is composed of:

  • Rodolphe Durand (External Examiner, HEC Paris)
  • Dror Etzion (External Examiner, McGill University, Canada)
  • Bernard Forgues (Co-Advisor, EMLYON Business School)
  • Philippe Monin (Defense Committee Chair, EMLYON Business School)
  • Filippo Wezel (Co-Advisor, Università Lugano & EMLYON Business School)


Social evaluation, especially negative social evaluation has recently received increasing attention in management research. While the general consensus regarding potential detrimental effects and consequences on organizations is well known, one important piece of puzzle is still understudied, namely the standpoints of multiple evaluators. By questioning social positions of multiple evaluators and organizational repertoires my dissertation addresses the question: how do organizations present themselves and engage in market relationships when social evaluation is complex, changing, and critical?
The first study examines why organizational publicly respond to unfavorable consumer evaluations. Two explanations for the selective response of producers are offered: the extent of devaluation, and the questioning of taken-for-granted elements of quality assessment. Stronger devaluations are more threatening to producers and therefore are more likely to be responded to. Some dimensions of devaluation involve taken-for-granted elements that take a rule-like status and are considered as the unquestionable way of doing things. I propose that the likelihood of observing a response from a producer will be higher when devaluations are coupled with a negative assessment of a taken-for-granted element of quality.
The second study complements the first study by investigating what kind of organizational responses are more likely to address consumer devaluations. In addition to the findings in the first study, I suggest that organizations, when faced with severe devaluations, are more likely to online casino craft responses that justify their actions and behaviors in order to rebuild positive impressions among consumers and develop a social relationship with them. Moreover, the effects of devaluations will vary across organizations depending on their reputation.
The third study focuses on one type of negative social evaluation – illegitimacy – and examines the transformation of social practices from an unsettled state of being non-legitimate to a consolidated state of being illegitimate. It considers evaluation as a contested and negotiated socio-political process involving various actors and reveals a three-stage- model of illegitimacy construction: scientization, moralization, and politicization.
The research questions of my dissertation are investigated in two distinct settings: rating and ranking of hotels in London on TripAdvisor (Studies 1 and 2) and classification of absinthe in French history (Study 3). The first dataset contains 209,950 reviews and 33,286 responses from 596 hotels in London from January 2002 to June 2012. The second dataset consists of archival data, interviews, and published books and articles covering the history of absinthe in France from 1859 to 1915.


[Update history: 1/ Date changed from March 3rd to March 23rd. The defense had to be re-scheduled because one committee member had a last minute requirement preventing him to join. 2/ Room added.]