The Credibility of Social Climbing: When Does Inter-Firm Mobility [Not] Influence Organizational Status?

This paper examines when inter-firm mobility influences organizational status. Whereas a low-status firm can accumulate prestigious affiliations by hiring from a high-status firm, the status distance between these firms may influence whether the mobility event is perceived as credible. If the mobility event lacks credibility, meaning that market participants believe that the employee moved for a reason other than the new employer’s quality, then the hiring firm is less likely to improve its status position. We also explore this effect’s symmetry and find that a high-status firm is less likely to experience status decline when the mobility event lacks credibility. We assess these hypotheses in the context of the inter-firm mobility of partners of the subsidiary offices of international law firms in Hong Kong from 1998 to 2008.


Nathan Betancourt, and Filippo Carlo Wezel. 2016. The Credibility of Social Climbing: When Does Inter-Firm Mobility [Not] Influence Organizational Status?, Organization Science, 27(6): 1435-1452:

2017-10-13T09:41:24+00:00 By |

About the Author:

Filippo Carlo Wezel
I am Professor of Management and Organization at emlyon business school. My research focuses on inter-firm mobility, entrepreneurship, and on the impact of categorization in markets and has been published in leading journals such as the Academy of Management Journal, American Sociological Review, Organization Science, Journal of International Business Studies, and Organization Studies among others.

My latest book (Human capital, inter-firm mobility and organizational evolution, co-authored with J. Pennings) was Finalist of the Academy of Management's George Terry Best Book Award. As of November 2016, I am Senior Editor at Organization Science.

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