The Ratings Game: Asymmetry in Classification

Eugene Garfield garfield at CODEX.CIS.UPENN.EDU
Fri Jul 29 15:22:20 EDT 2011

The Ratings Game: Asymmetry in Classification

Author(s): Waguespack, DM (Waguespack, David M.); Sorenson, O (Sorenson, 

Source: ORGANIZATION SCIENCE  Volume: 22  Issue: 3  Pages: 541-553  DOI: 
10.1287/orsc.1100.0533  Published: MAY-JUN 2011  

Abstract: Categorization processes are generally treated as consistent 
mappings of the underlying characteristics that they group. Yet, in many 
cases, the identities of actors influence these processes. When identity 
matters, high-status actors often obtain more favorable classifications. We 
examine these processes in the context of the Motion Picture Association of 
America's parental guidance classifications of movies (G, PG, R, NC-17). We find 
that, conditional on a given level of content, films distributed by the 
Association's members and those that involve more central producers and 
directors receive more lenient classifications than those carried by independent 
distributors and involving more peripheral personnel. Conversely, and again 
conditional on content, films involving directors with a history of producing R-
rated features receive more restrictive ratings. We discuss the mechanisms 
that might account for these effects. Regardless of the mechanism, however, 
because ratings influence revenue and consequently profitability, the movie 
certification system in the United States places independent distributors and 
peripheral individuals at a disadvantage, relative to their larger and more 
central rivals.
Language: English
Document Type: Article

Author Keywords: status; identity; ratings; categories; film industry

Addresses: [Waguespack, DM] Univ Maryland, Robert H Smith Sch Business, 
College Pk, MD 20742 USA
[Sorenson, O] Yale Univ, Sch Management, New Haven, CT 06520 USA
Reprint Address: Waguespack, DM (reprint author), Univ Maryland, Robert H 
Smith Sch Business, College Pk, MD 20742 USA

E-mail Address: dwaguesp at, olav.sorenson at
ISSN: 1047-7039

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