Code and Conduct in French Cuisine: Impact of code changes on external evaluations

R. DURAND, H. Rao, P. Monin

Strategic Management Journal

May 2007, vol. 28, n°5

Departments: Strategy & Business Policy, GREGHEC (CNRS)

Keywords: Code, Strategic changes, External evaluations, Social positioning

We study the effects of organizational code-preserving and code-violating changes on externalevaluations by third parties'an essential but under-studied strategic outcome. We define codepreservingchanges as a variation in the firm's product range that preserves the social codewithin which the firm positions its offering. By contrast, a code-violating change correspondsto a variation in the product range that breaks with past codes and embraces another socialcode. Our analyses of French haute cuisine restaurants show that code-preserving changes andcode-violating changes have positive effects on external evaluations. Both effects decline withprior evaluations received by the organization, but only the effect of code-violating changesis reduced with age. Moreover, external evaluations improve when restaurants undertake morecode-preserving changes than their direct competitors but decline when they make more codeviolatingchanges than competitors. These results enable us to derive implications for researchon strategic change, strategic groups, and strategic social positioning. Keywords code ' strategic changes ' external evaluations ' social positioning