Innovators’ Acts of Framing and Audiences’ Structural Characteristics in Novelty Recognition

  • Gino CattaniEmail author
  • Denise Falchetti
  • Simone Ferriani


We integrate a rhetorical with an audience-mediated perspective on novelty recognition to advance a conceptual framework where recognition of novel ideas is understood as the result of the interplay between an innovator’s acts of framing and audiences’ structural characteristics. Building on storytelling and narrative research, we argue that innovators can overcome the liability of newness of their ideas by framing them so as to shape the evaluation of relevant audiences (e.g., peers, critics, investors or users). We also suggest that non-agentic mechanisms can render a field more or less permeable to the reception of novel ideas. Specifically, we propose that two audience-level characteristics affect novelty evaluation: audience heterogeneity and whether an audience is internal or external to cultural producers’ (including innovators’) professional community. Studying innovators’ acts of framing and marrying them with audience-level characteristics affords a window into a more nuanced understanding of how novel ideas are recognized and eventually accepted in cultural fields, thus offering several contributions to research on innovation and entrepreneurship and, more generally, social evaluation.


  1. Adarves-Yorno, I., Postmes, T., & Haslam, S. A. (2007). Creative innovation or crazy irrelevance? The contribution of group norms and social identity to creative behavior. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 43(3), 410–416.Google Scholar
  2. Aldrich, H. E., & Fiol, C. M. (1994). Fools rush in? The institutional context of industry creation. Academy of Management Review, 19(4), 645–670.Google Scholar
  3. Aldrich, H. E., & Martinez, M. A. (2015). Why aren’t entrepreneurs more creative? Conditions affecting creativity and innovation in entrepreneurial activity. In The Oxford handbook of creativity, innovation, and entrepreneurship: Multilevel linkages (pp. 445–456). Oxford: Oxford University Press. Google Scholar
  4. Amabile, T. M. (1982). Social psychology of creativity: A consensual assessment technique. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 43(5), 997.Google Scholar
  5. Amabile, T. M. (1996). Creativity in context. Boulder, CO: Westview Press.Google Scholar
  6. Anderson, N., Potočnik, K., & Zhou, J. (2014). Innovation and creativity in organizations: A state-of-the-science review, prospective commentary, and guiding framework. Journal of Management, 40(5), 1297–1333.Google Scholar
  7. Becker, H. S. (1982). Art Worlds. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  8. Bourdieu, P. (1980). The production of belief: Contribution to an economy of symbolic goods. Media, Culture and Society, 2(3), 261–293.Google Scholar
  9. Bourdieu, P. (1984). Distinction: A social critique of the judgment of taste. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  10. Bourdieu, P. (1993). The field of cultural production. New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  11. Burt, R. S. (2004). Structural holes and good ideas. American Journal of Sociology, 110(2), 349–399.Google Scholar
  12. Cattani, G., Colucci, M., & Ferriani, S. (2016). Chanel’s creative trajectory in the field of fashion: The optimal network structuration strategy. In Multidisciplinary contributions to the science of creative thinking (pp. 117–132). Singapore: Springer.Google Scholar
  13. Cattani, G., & Ferriani, S. (2008). A core/periphery perspective on individual creative performance: Social networks and cinematic achievements in the Hollywood film industry. Organization Science, 19(6), 824–844.Google Scholar
  14. Cattani, G., Ferriani, S., & Allison, D. (2014). Insiders, outsiders, and the struggle for consecration in cultural fields: A core-periphery perspective. American Sociological Review, 79(2), 258–281.Google Scholar
  15. Cattani, G., Ferriani, S., & Lanza, A. (2017). Deconstructing the outsider puzzle: The legitimation journey of novelty. Organization Science, 28(6), 965–992.Google Scholar
  16. Cattani, G., Ferriani, S., Negro, G., & Perretti, F. (2008). The structure of consensus: Network ties, legitimation, and exit rates of US feature film producer organizations. Administrative Science Quarterly, 53(1), 145–182.Google Scholar
  17. Collins, R. (1998). The sociology of philosophies: A global theory of intellectual change. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  18. Cornelissen, J. P., & Werner, M. D. (2014). Putting framing in perspective: A review of framing and frame analysis across the management and organizational literature. The Academy of Management Annals, 8(1), 181–235.Google Scholar
  19. Crane, D. (1976). Reward systems in art, science, and religion. American Behavioral Scientist, 19(6), 719–734.Google Scholar
  20. Csikszentmihályi, M. (1990). Flow the psychology of optimal experience. New York: Harper & Row.Google Scholar
  21. Csikszentmihályi, M. (1996). Creativity, flow and the psychology of discovery and invention. New York: HarperCollins.Google Scholar
  22. Czarniawska, B. (1998). A narrative approach in organization studies. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  23. Debackere, K., Clarysse, B., Wijneberg, N. M., & Rappa, M. A. (1994). Science and industry: A theory of networks and paradigms. Technology Analysis & Strategic Management, 6(1), 21–38.Google Scholar
  24. De Vaan, M., Stark, D., & Vedres, B. (2015). Game changer: The topology of creativity. American Journal of Sociology, 120(4), 1144–1194.Google Scholar
  25. Durand, R., Rao, H., & Monin, P. (2007). Code and conduct in French cuisine: Impact of code changes on external evaluations. Strategic Management Journal, 28(5), 455–472.Google Scholar
  26. Elsbach, K. D., & Kramer, R. M. (2003). Assessing creativity in hollywood pitch meetings: Evidence for a dual-process model of creativity judgments. Academy of Management Journal, 46(3), 283–301.Google Scholar
  27. Furnari, S. (2018). When does an issue trigger change in a field? A comparative approach to issue frames, field structures and types of field change. Human Relations, 71(3), 321–348.Google Scholar
  28. Gabriel, Y. (2004). Narratives, stories and texts. In D. Grant, C. Hardy, C. Oswick, & L. Putnam (Eds.), The Sage handbook of organizational discourse (pp. 61–77). London: Sage.Google Scholar
  29. Gardner, H. E. (1993). Frames of minds: The theory of multiple intelligences. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  30. Garud, R., Gehman, J., & Giuliani, A. P. (2014). Contextualizing entrepreneurial innovation: A narrative perspective. Research Policy, 43(7), 1177–1188.Google Scholar
  31. Goldberg, A., Hannan, M. T., & Kovács, B. (2016). What does it mean to span cultural boundaries? Variety and atypicality in cultural consumption. American Sociological Review, 81(2), 215–241.Google Scholar
  32. Hargadon, A. B., & Douglas, Y. (2001). When innovations meet institutions: Edison and the design of the electric light. Administrative Science Quarterly, 46(3), 476–501.Google Scholar
  33. Harrod, H. (2018, November 16). The rise and rise of the ultra-influencer. Financial Times.
  34. Janssen, S. (1997). Reviewing as social practice: Institutional constraints on critics’ attention for contemporary fiction. Poetics, 24(5), 275–297.Google Scholar
  35. Kahl, S. J., & Grodal, S. (2016). Discursive strategies and radical technological change: Multilevel discourse analysis of the early computer (1947–1958). Strategic Management Journal, 37(1), 149–166.Google Scholar
  36. Kasof, J. (1995). Explaining creativity: The attributional perspective. Creativity Research Journal, 8(4), 311–366.Google Scholar
  37. Keinan, A., Maslauskaite, K., Crener, S., & Dessain, V. (2015). The blonde salad. Harvard Business School Case 515-074. Boston, MA: HBS Press.Google Scholar
  38. Khaire, M., & Wadhwani, D. (2010). Changing landscapes: The construction of meaning and value in a new market category—Modern Indian art. Academy of Management Journal, 53(6), 1281–1304.Google Scholar
  39. Kirton, M. J. (1994). Adaptors and innovators: Styles of creativity and problem solving. New York, NY: Routledge.Google Scholar
  40. Lamont, M. (2009). How professors think. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Google Scholar
  41. Lingo, E. L., & O’Mahony, S. (2010). Nexus work: Brokerage on creative projects. Administrative Science Quarterly, 55(1), 47–81.Google Scholar
  42. Lounsbury, M., & Glynn, M. A. (2001). Cultural entrepreneurship: Stories, legitimacy, and the acquisition of resources. Strategic Management Journal, 22(6–7), 545–564.Google Scholar
  43. Madjar, N., Greenberg, E., & Chen, Z. (2011). Factors for radical creativity, incremental creativity, and routine, noncreative performance. Journal of Applied Psychology, 96(4), 730.Google Scholar
  44. Manning, S., & Bejarano, T. A. (2016). Convincing the crowd: Entrepreneurial storytelling in crowdfunding campaigns. Strategic Organization, 15(2), 194–219.Google Scholar
  45. March, J. G. (2010). The Ambiguities of Experience. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
  46. Martens, M. L., Jennings, J. E., & Jennings, D. (2007). Do the stories they tell get them the money they need? The role of entrepreneurial narratives in resource acquisition. Academy of Management Journal, 50(5), 1107–1132.Google Scholar
  47. Mueller, J. S., Melwani, S., & Goncalo, J. A. (2012). The bias against creativity: Why people desire but reject creative ideas. Psychological Science, 23(1), 13–17.Google Scholar
  48. Mueller, J., Melwani, S., Loewenstein, J., & Deal, J. J. (2018). Reframing the decision-makers’ dilemma: Towards a social context model of creative idea recognition. Academy of Management Journal, 61(1), 94–110.Google Scholar
  49. Mumford, M. D., & Gustafson, S. B. (1988). Creativity syndrome: Integration, application, and innovation. Psychological Bulletin, 103(1), 27.Google Scholar
  50. Navis, C., & Glynn, M. A. (2011). Legitimate distinctiveness and the entrepreneurial identity: Influence on investor judgments of new venture plausibility. Academy of Management Review, 36(3), 479–499.Google Scholar
  51. Padgett, J. F., & Powell, W. W. (2012). The emergence of organizations and markets. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  52. Parker, J. N., & Corte, U. (2017). Placing collaborative circles in strategic action fields: Explaining differences between highly creative groups. Sociological Theory, 35(4), 261–287.Google Scholar
  53. Perry-Smith, J. E. (2006). Social yet creative: The role of social relationships in facilitating individual creativity. Academy of Management Journal, 49(1), 85–101.Google Scholar
  54. Perry-Smith, J. E., & Mannucci, V. (2017). From creativity to innovation: The social network drivers of the four phases of the idea journey. Academy of Management Review, 42(1), 53–79.Google Scholar
  55. Pollack, J. M., Rutherford, M. W., & Nagy, B. G. (2012). Preparedness and cognitive legitimacy as antecedents of new venture funding in televised business pitches. Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, 36(5), 915–939.Google Scholar
  56. Pontikes, E. G. (2012). Two sides of the same coin: How ambiguous classification affects multiple audiences’ evaluations. Administrative Science Quarterly, 57(1), 81–118.Google Scholar
  57. Rindova, V. P., & Petkova, A. P. (2007). When is a new thing a good thing? Technological change, product form design, and perceptions of value for product innovations. Organization Science, 18(2), 217–232.Google Scholar
  58. Seong, S., & Godart, F. (2018). Semantic strategies for influencing the influencers: Trading a stock of names for higher creativity evaluations. Academy of Management Journal, 61(3), 966–993.Google Scholar
  59. Sgourev, S. V. (2013). How Paris gave rise to Cubism (and Picasso): Ambiguity and fragmentation in radical innovation. Organization Science, 24(6), 1601–1617.Google Scholar
  60. Simmel, G. (1971). On Individuality and Social Forms. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  61. Suchman, M. C. (1995). Managing legitimacy: Strategic and institutional approaches. Academy of Management Review, 20(3), 571–610.Google Scholar
  62. Uzzi, B., & Spiro, J. (2005). Collaboration and creativity: The small world problem. American Journal of Sociology, 111(2), 447–504.Google Scholar
  63. Vaara, E., Sonenshein, S., & Boje, D. (2016). Narratives as sources of stability and change in organizations: Approaches and directions for future research. The Academy of Management Annals, 10(1), 495–560.Google Scholar
  64. van Werven, R., Bouwmeester, O., & Cornelissen, J. P. (2015). The power of arguments: How entrepreneurs convince stakeholders of the legitimate distinctiveness of their ventures. Journal of Business Venturing, 30(4), 616–631.Google Scholar
  65. Vergne, J. P., & Wry, T. (2014). Categorizing categorization research: Review, integration, and future directions. Journal of Management Studies, 51, 56–94.Google Scholar
  66. White, H. C. (1992). Identity and control: A structural theory of social action. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  67. Wijnberg, N. M. (1995). Selection processes and appropriability in art, science and technology. Journal of Cultural Economics, 19, 221–235.Google Scholar
  68. Wijnberg, N. M., & Gemser, G. (2000). Adding value to innovation: Impressionism and the transformation of the selection system in visual arts. Organization Science, 11(3), 323–329.Google Scholar
  69. Zhou, J., Wang, X. M., Song, L. J., & Wu, J. (2017). Is it new? Personal and contextual influences on perceptions of novelty and creativity. Journal of Applied Psychology, 102(2), 180.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gino Cattani
    • 1
    Email author
  • Denise Falchetti
    • 2
  • Simone Ferriani
    • 3
    • 4
  1. 1.Stern School of BusinessNew York UniversityNew YorkUSA
  2. 2.Questrom School of BusinessBoston UniversityBostonUSA
  3. 3.University of BolognaBolognaItaly
  4. 4.Cass Business SchoolLondonUK

Personalised recommendations