Research Summary


by Daniel Malter


In his work on identity, Professor Malter investigates when and why high-status affiliations make organizations and individuals less appealing to their audiences. In a study of the venture capital industry, he finds that a venture capital firm is less likely to raise a new venture fund the more its identity is eclipsed by or confounded with the identities of high-status syndicate partners. In related work on participants in competitive labor markets, he finds that when the true quality of an individual is uncertain, audiences discount candidates with overly strong high-status affiliations because such affiliations raise doubts whether the candidate is merely riding on the coattails of the affiliates. These studies suggest that organizations and individuals can improve their audience approval by structuring their relationships in ways that signal distinctiveness from the established elite in their fields.