Status and Career Mobility in Organizational Fields: Chefs and Restaurants in the United States, 1990–2013

Status and Career Mobility in Organizational Fields: Chefs and Restaurants in the United States,... Abstract Using a set of user-generated data, we examine patterns in the careers of professional chefs. We argue that this is one of many cases in which careers must be understood as shaped by dual structures—the typical occupational structure within a firm, and the organization of firms in a larger field. We then demonstrate how career trajectories may be formalized as movement through a two-dimensional space defined by status in these structures. Building on previous ethnographic work finding that chefs understand the logic of their careers as involving repeated trade-offs between their occupational status (their rank within the kitchen) and organizational status (the status of the restaurant at which they work), we attempt to determine how different trajectories are associated with different outcomes. We find that, despite the somewhat random nature of entrance into the culinary profession, future top-tier chefs disproportionately begin their careers at high-status restaurants. Beyond their auspicious beginnings, these top-chefs-to-be also commonly devote their early careers to maximizing organizational status, forgoing promotions to higher kitchen ranks in favor of low-level jobs at more prestigious restaurants. By comparison, chefs destined to run lower-status restaurants tend to spend their early careers prioritizing rapid advancement within the kitchen, only pursuing jobs at more prestigious restaurants much later in their careers, with limited success. Introduction A career, in contrast to a job, has a temporal logic (Spilerman 1977). Our most general sense of this temporal logic is simply that “people move up over time,” but the specificities of how and when such upward mobility takes place are a function of the particular constitution of the organizational field (DiMaggio and Powell 1983) and its institutional logic (Friedland and Alford 1991)—that is, the specific set of substantively similar organizations that are functional equivalents, and their shared set of meanings and practices. A career is recognizable as a career, in other words, only when it involves an orderly succession of stages that traverse a field in a certain way (Rosenfeld 1992). This movement can take different forms. While some careers consist of moving up a predetermined ladder of increasingly prestigious jobs within a single organization, others—such as those of freelancers—consist entirely of short-term relationships with multiple firms. A vast number of careers, however, exist between these two extremes. In medicine, law, software development, and academia, to name a few, individuals traverse a commonly understood hierarchy of occupational roles (which we shall call a “ladder”; for example, that connecting resident to attending to chief attending physician), often while also moving between organizations of varying levels of prestige. Despite the intuitive plausibility of this claim, most research on career mobility has, for reasons of tractability, focused on extreme cases: those where interorganizational movement is non-existent (which allows studying the internal labor market of a single firm), or those where movement between occupational roles is non-existent (which allows examining the organizational ties of a group of comparable cases, such as “freelance writers”). But in organizational fields where both forms of movement are common, we know much less about how careers that make subjective sense to participants are constructed (as, for example, “a rising star” or “dead wood”), and which constructions are deemed successes or failures. In a step toward a deeper understanding of such cases, we examine the careers of hundreds of chefs, as they attempt to juggle the conflicting imperatives of job rank and restaurant status. Chefs are, as Leschziner (2015) says, an interesting and understudied group. Their career patterns are different from the more commonly studied creative professions (Menger 1999), but these patterns are likely to be shared with other applied creative vocations. Those who become chefs often begin cooking as a “job,” and only later decide to pursue it as a career. These initial positions are low status, easy to get, and have few skill requirements. They may be chosen because a friend knows of a job (cf. Bearman 2005), and not because one was specifically looking for a career in the kitchen. Presumably, this “stumble-in” characteristic (Leschziner 2015, 17, 19) should lead to some degree of re-sorting after initial career stages. Some persons who stumbled into low-status entry-level jobs but have high skills and strong motivation will ascend (as will, perhaps, those with better social connections, favored diffuse statuses, or good luck); others, who stumbled into entry-level jobs in high-status organizations but lack skills and ambition, will tend to fall to less prestigious restaurants as they are pushed out of more elite kitchens by their more promising or more favored colleagues. A second key feature of professional cooking as a creative career is that although chefs desire creative autonomy, very few are in a position to neglect the tastes of their customers—unlike painters, for example, who can paint for curators, chefs cannot cook only for critics. Because chefs require restaurants (and thus, a steady stream of customers) to exhibit their work, commercial success and creative expression are interwoven in the culinary profession (Fine 1996; Lane 2014; Leschziner 2015). There is one last interesting aspect of the chef career. As we shall see, chefs have their own status closely associated with the status of the organizations at which they are employed (Rao, Monin, and Durand 2003). For this reason, their career process is closely bound up with the structuring of their organizational field. While a professor can generally pursue a successful career without continuous attention to the position of the organizations in which she works in an overall ecology, this is impossible for a chef. We begin with a brief discussion of the theoretical questions animating this project, then turn to the remarkable data that we use, and finally, move to analysis. Theory Individual and organizational status Chefs, like all people, often pursue many goals simultaneously. They may attempt to find a job in a more prestigious restaurant, move up the occupational hierarchy—or move to a nicer city, get away from an obnoxious colleague, or simply do something new. But whatever their other motivations, chefs at the high end of the field—those most oriented to the national-level field as such—must also attend to status concerns. While such an orientation to status is only one part of the institutional logic of a field, it is a formally simple one that facilitates comparison across substantively different arenas, and hence is a good place for building theory. As a result, the relation between status and such organizational principles remains of great interest in sociology (Sauder, Lynn, and Podolny 2012). As a vague notion of some sort of vertical organization of consensual esteem, the idea of “status” can be applied to very different units: individuals, families, jobs, or importantly, organizations. The organizations that comprise an organizational field are not simply located in a similar sector. They also often share suppliers, compete for customers, and are connected through the careers of their employees, who may have similar training, and share similar cultural models (DiMaggio and Powell 1983). As a result, these individuals commonly produce consensual status orderings of the organizations that compose the field (White 1981). These prestige-based hierarchies both reflect and reinforce the field’s social order, conferring advantage on high-status firms while hindering those of comparatively lower prestige (Benjamin and Podolny 1999; Phillips and Zuckerman 2001; Podolny 1994). But the flexibility with which the concept of status may be applied leads to certain puzzles for analysis; just as the organizations in a given field may be clearly ranked in status with regard to one another, so too may the occupations that form a ladder within these organizations. In such cases, we often do not simply equate individuals’ status with that of their organizations: a graduate student (i.e., a position of low prestige) at a high-status sociology department does not have more status than a professor at a medium-status sociology department. Indeed, in some cases, the status of the organization with which an individual is affiliated does not affect the individual’s status at all (Dubois and François 2013). For example, in the Hollywood studio system of the early twentieth century, because the major motion picture studios all produced A-, B-, and C-list films, working for any particular studio conveyed little information about an actor’s status. In other professions, however, the individual’s status is primarily driven by that of the organization. Such is the case in the field of cuisine, where a chef’s status is strongly associated with that of the restaurant at which she works. This tight coupling is most apparent for the executive chef, who is thought to be the sole creator of a restaurant’s food, and thus receives credit (or blame!) for its successes and failures (Lane 2014; Leschziner 2015). But a restaurant’s status has important implications for lower-level kitchen staff as well. At this level, where skills and talent are difficult to directly observe, individuals receive spillover status from the restaurants at which they work. Chefs understand that having worked at high-status restaurants improves their own standing, and commonly call attention to their most prestigious work experiences in biographies and interviews. Thus, the notion of organizational status gives us one way of beginning to develop a general framework for how careers make reference to the joint structuring of jobs and organizational fields. Careers, occupations, and organizations Careers can be understood as a series of particular jobs embedded in an organization field (Rosenfeld 1992). Thus, to understand a career’s trajectory, it is vital to account for each job’s status in relation to other jobs on the same ladder (which we shall call “occupational status”), as well as the status of the organization itself (hereafter “organizational status”).1 Previous work, however, has typically focused on just one or the other of these elements. One general line of research has viewed career trajectories in terms of the occupational status associated with each job in the individual’s work history. Early work in this vein regarded the “orderly” career as an ideal type in which the individual progresses from positions of lower status into those of relatively higher prestige over time (Slocum 1966; Wilensky 1960, 1961). Subsequent research, however, has noted that work histories often do not follow such a pattern. Individuals starting in the same position frequently embark upon quite different paths, with some moving up the occupational ladder in “orderly” fashion, while others plateau early, move downward, or switch industries altogether (Spilerman 1977). Since White (1970), a number of studies have explored the relationship between organizational structures and individual career advancement. But where this research explicitly ties career trajectories to environmental factors, it often restricts analysis to the “internal labor markets” that exist within a single, large organization (DiPrete and Soule 1986; Rosenbaum 1979; Stovel and Savage 2006). By examining only careers contained within a single organization, this work effectively holds organizational status constant. Research that has examined careers spanning multiple organizations, meanwhile, has tended to overlook organizational status as a factor driving mobility, even as it considers other organization-level characteristics (e.g., March and March 1977). A second vein of research has examined the careers of individuals as sequences of affiliations with different organizations over time. Much of this work focuses on occupations that are not arranged in a hierarchical ordering; for example, freelance professions such as photographers, filmmakers, or poets. Here, careers comprise many short-term projects, rather than longer-term relationships with any single employer. Within these professions, there is typically very little variation in occupational status per se—a photographer is simply a photographer, and so on. Thus, the main way such individuals move “upward” is not through promotion, but by forming new relationships with higher-status organizations. This research has found that the individual’s position within these networks of exchange often has considerable implications for her long-term success (Faulkner and Anderson 1987; Giuffre 1999), as well as the success of the projects themselves (Cattani and Ferriani 2008)—though the specifics of these dynamics vary considerably across contexts. Where some fields expect a steady upward trajectory and heavily penalize any downward movement whatsoever (Faulkner and Anderson 1987), others are more flexible in the patterns of affiliation that lead to the long-term success of individuals (Dubois and François 2013). These two lines of research have successfully investigated career trajectories in several industries and organization types. But in many fields, careers involve trade-offs between the status of a given job within an organization, and the status of the organization itself (DiMaggio and Powell 1983, 153). In a symphony orchestra, for example, the first chair in the violins is of higher occupational status than is the second chair, which is better than being a section player. But at the organizational level, some orchestras are higher status than others. Along these two dimensions, whether a musician finds it preferable to be, say, first violin in Baltimore or a section player in New York depends on that musician’s career path, history, and goals (Faulkner 1973; also see Frederickson and Rooney [1988]). For ambitious and talented young musicians, a first chair in a second-tier orchestra may be seen as a brief stop on the way to the top; for more experienced performers who have spent considerable time as section players in more remote locations, the same position may be considered a comfortable place to ride out a successful career. In both cases, focusing attention on occupational or organizational status alone will almost certainly fail to reveal the logic underlying each individual’s career decisions. When taken together, however, what might otherwise look like a set of “disorderly” career moves is instead revealed to be a rational sequence of trade-offs in pursuit of a particular position within a specific organization (Faulkner 1973; Westby 1959). The specific logics of these trade-offs differ from context to context. In some fields, there is a strong ratcheting effect in terms of occupational status; while a professor at a higher-status university might switch to a lower-status school to become a dean, say, it would be very rare for a dean at a low-status university to become a professor at a higher-status one. But in other fields, pursuing a career requires considering these trade-offs in either direction: should I go down in occupational status to increase organizational status, or vice versa? This is precisely the trade-off that Faulkner’s orchestra musicians consider, but we would expect similar dynamics in other fields where both job titles and organizations are clearly ranked. An engineer at MySpace might take a demotion to work at a higher-status company like Facebook or Google, while a junior associate at an elite law firm may improve her chances of making partner by moving to a less prestigious firm. But the specifics of these trade-offs depend on the characteristics of each organizational field. Beyond their effects on individual-level strategies and outcomes, these career logics also have important implications for organizations. As the literature on mobility networks demonstrates, the interorganizational ties formed through employee movement serve as conduits for critical strategic resources, such as social capital and technical expertise (Mawdsley and Somaya 2016). In some cases, this entails a transfer of resources that bolsters one firm while imperiling the other (Phillips 2002; Rao and Drazin 2002). Other times, however, such mobility produces new, mutually beneficial relationships between organizations (Corredoira and Rosenkopf 2010; Somaya, Williamson, and Lorinkova 2008). But the personnel moves that produce these organization-level effects are themselves embedded within careers driven by particular logics. Understanding these logics promises to reveal a vital link between the employment decisions of individuals and the interfirm mobility networks created through their actions. Data and Methods The Chef and Restaurant Database We here use a set of data on the careers of chefs2 known as the Chef and Restaurant Database (hereafter CRDB). Data from the CRDB were separately gathered and analyzed by Roberts, Negro, and Swaminathan (2013). Our data, collected in 2014, includes information on a total of 30,208 chefs occupying 53,091 positions at 22,331 restaurants around the world. When restricted to American restaurants active between 1990 and 2013, we are left with 8,274 chefs, 21,185 positions, and 7,250 restaurants. These data are “aficionado” produced; like other such data, they are not only incomplete, but tend to focus on the more interesting and popular cases. While some such databases can aspire to reasonable coverage (there are only so many Star Trek episodes), there are over half a million restaurants in the United States. But although the CRDB’s coverage is restricted to a small proportion of top chefs and establishments, it is precisely this fraction that properly comprises the “Field of Cuisine.” For it is this set of actors who are mutually aware of, and oriented to, one another’s existence and actions in their common pursuit of culinary excellence and critical recognition (Leschziner 2015). The tendency for this data to disproportionately cover the high end of all possible chefs and restaurants can be verified by examining the number of James Beard Foundation (JBF) award winners and nominees included in the database. Conferred once a year, these awards recognize chefs and restaurants in the United States in several categories, such as the “Rising Star” award for up-and-coming chefs, and the “Outstanding Service” award for restaurants. These awards are among the highest form of recognition for culinary excellence in the country, and the list of recipients and nominees includes some of the most prestigious chefs and restaurants in the field. This esteemed group is well represented in our data. Of the JBF’s chef and restaurant awards given between 1990 and 2013, the CRDB contains information on 100 percent of award winners and 93 percent of all nominees. Thus, while our sample is skewed to higher-status chefs and restaurants, this is the very population that is most relevant to our study.3 Still, because we have a non-random sample, no particular statistic derived from these data can simply be imputed to either the restricted population of the field of cuisine, or the more inclusive set of all restaurant workers. Rather than attempt such population parameter estimates, we instead focus on comparisons relevant to claims about the field’s unique career logics and the persistence of advantage. For these analyses, the data’s skew toward high-status chefs produces a sample that very likely understates the true differences between high- and low-status actors, resulting in biases that are conservative for our claims (results available from the authors). A bigger problem than the skew is the retrospective sampling. Data such as these lack what we would ideally want for a study of career progression—namely a random sample of an entering cohort of persons starting their careers, whom we could then follow until retirement or point of censoring. Instead, we have retrospective data; those who ended up as chefs in high-status restaurants have their earlier positions reported, while those who never made it big are unlikely to be represented. This would be an inherently problematic sampling on the dependent variable were we to try to explain the factors that predict achievement of high status. But our interest is not in predictions of success, but rather in the moves—the changes in job rank and restaurant—that professional chefs make in their career “ascent” (Fürstenberg 1969). Since we know that our disproportionately successful chefs will, overall, have a tendency to move “up” in some sense, we are interested in how this ascent is structured over time. In other words, how do these actors balance occupational and organizational status when choosing their next position, and how are these decisions patterned over the course of chefs’ careers? Determining Restaurant Status There are different ways of attempting to ascertain the status of an organization in a field. In a creative field such as the culinary arts, where critics assess quality and bestow recognition (Fine 1996; Lane 2014; Leschziner 2015), one obvious strategy would be to rank restaurants according to their reception among this vital audience of gatekeepers, either in terms of awards or restaurant reviews. In our case, however, there are several obstacles to this approach. Despite representing the top of the culinary field, only a small percentage of restaurants included in our dataset have received such major awards. Further, the variety of award types that are conferred by different groups do not lend themselves to an obvious hierarchy, making it difficult to rank even those restaurants that have been recognized. Restaurant reviews face a similar issue, in that a “four star” review by a critic in one city is not necessarily equivalent to that of another reviewer elsewhere. So, although these exogenous forms of recognition can be used to identify the utmost elite restaurants in our already high-end sample, they tell us little about the vast majority of restaurants in the field. In the absence of more explicit indicators of prestige, one common way to infer status is to use certain relations that connect the set of organizations, such as strategic partnerships or business transactions (Podolny and Phillips 1996; Stuart, Hoang, and Hybels 1999; see also Bothner, Smith, and White [2010]). One such set of relationships is the flow of personnel between organizations. For example, in examining the movement of PhDs between research universities, Burris (2004) observes that high-status departments commonly send their students to lower-status departments, but not vice versa. Burris finds that, in aggregate, these personnel flows form an exchange network whose structure reflects the field’s established prestige rankings. Indeed, this may be the best possible measure of status, as it involves an observable action that reveals preferences between specific organizations that the actor knows something about, as opposed to the low-stakes guesswork typically required in a survey-based rating-scale task, for example. A similar approach may be applied to ranking restaurants. Because frequent movement between kitchens is considered part of the culinary profession’s informal apprenticeship system, chefs leave a train of personnel flows that can be used to trace the structure of exchanges between restaurants. And although the culinary field’s status order is largely determined by a small group of exogenous critics, chefs are keenly aware of this hierarchy, and take it into consideration when contemplating their career moves. As a result, rather than bouncing around kitchens of widely disparate status, chefs tend to move between restaurants of similar levels of prestige (Leschziner 2015, 34). Thus, we can reasonably assume that these moves are patterned in a way that reflects this ranking, and a restaurant’s position within this structure corresponds to its relative status within the field. Although the movement of chefs between restaurants may reflect the status of those restaurants, there is also reason to believe that the measures most commonly used for this purpose, such as eigenvector or power centrality (Bonacich 1987), may not be appropriate for our specific application. Such measures are heavily influenced by a node’s degree, and in our case, the number of ties to and from our restaurants have more to do with kitchen size and turnover than with status itself. For this reason, we find it advantageous to anchor our measure to an unambiguous exogenous indicator of status—in this case, the James Beard Foundation’s award for outstanding restaurant. Given to 23 unique restaurants between 1990 and 2013, this award is one of the American culinary field’s most revered prizes. By identifying the very top of the field, we can then use the structure of exchanges between all restaurants to deduce the relative position of all other restaurants. In essence, we construct a network among the organizations, where a tie arises between organizations when an employee leaves one and goes to the other. We then use this network to assign status scores by assuming that moves directly between restaurants of very different status are uncommon. Let yit indicate the restaurant employing the ith person (out of N) at time t; thus y = {1, 2,…J}, where J is the number of restaurants. Thus, we may say yit = j (1 ≤ j ≤ J). We consider any pair (i,t) to be a “mover” if yit ≠ yit′, where t′ = t + 1. Of necessity, we use the year as our unit of observation (no finer information is present in our data). This means that when multiple moves occur within a single year, we cannot determine the direction of all moves. In this case, we create moves between all jobs held in that period, and assign them weights that sum to 1. We discuss this in greater detail in Appendix A. In the resultant network, we use a recursive algorithm to produce a status measure, somewhat akin to the PageRank algorithm (Page et al. 1999). Let xjk (=xkj) indicate the number of moves between restaurants j and k across all years included in our data; that is, xjk=∑i,tI(yit=j)I(yit′=k)wit (1) where I() is the indicator function and wit the weighting discussed in Appendix A. Using this set of moves between restaurants, we then construct the status of the jth restaurant SRj as follows. First, we anchor a select few restaurants as “top shelf,” based on whether they have received a James Beard Foundation award for Outstanding Restaurant. These 23 restaurants are assigned a fixed score of 1 (the maximum possible). For all other restaurants, a seed value of 0.5 is assigned, then a status score is determined iteratively as follows: Sjm+1R=1αj∑k=1JSkmRxjk (2) where m indicates the iteration, and αj is restaurant j’s total number of ties, plus one.4,5 This status score is calculated iteratively until scores converge within 10−7, then logged and rescaled for a range of [0, 1]. Note that the organizational status of the ith person at time t can be notated by substituting yit for j in SRj. For brevity’s sake, we will denote this as SPit (the status of person i at time t). Of course, this algorithm only retrieves a working proxy for the status of any restaurant, but this is true for all sociological methods. Yet, as in other studies, we will go on to demonstrate that this measure works well to organize the data in such a way as to shed light on chefs’ career choices. Organizational and Occupational Status The Structure of a Restaurant One of the complexities of examining career mobility for chefs is that restaurants vary in their structure of positions and, especially at lower levels, movement is, in Leschziner’s (2015, 24) words, stochastic, and not easily predicted. Yet at the higher levels, as she says, there is regularity—few become executive chefs without being sous chefs first, and fewer still become chef-owners without first being executive chefs. Figure 1 charts the career flows between occupational positions, including only the more common destinations for each origin position (those above the mean for that row; the data are found in Table A1, in Appendix A). The thickness of each line is proportional to the number of transitions between titles. Thus we see, for example, that most interns pass to the position of sous chef via the intermediate position of cook, while sous chefs most commonly move on to the higher positions of chef de cuisine and executive chef. Note that the arrows tend to point upward, indicating the general structure of a career. Figure 1. View largeDownload slide Career flows across positions Figure 1. View largeDownload slide Career flows across positions Anchoring Occupational Status to Organizational Status It would be convenient if we could assign these occupational ranks an interval status measure, just as we did for restaurants. We can do so by building on previous work that demonstrates that chefs understand the trade-off between organizational and occupational status—that, to move up in one form of status, one must generally move down in the other (Leschziner 2015, 40). Consider (for example) those who shift from being a sous chef at one restaurant to being a chef de cuisine at another. If, for all such moves, the average organizational status of the destination restaurant was (say) 0.345 points lower than that of the origin restaurant, we could consider the chef de cuisine to have an occupational status score 0.345 points higher than that of sous chef (since this is the average amount of organizational status one gives up to make this change in title). Of course, there is no guarantee that all these differences will perfectly fit an interval order; we therefore estimate the best-fitting order as follows. Let zit indicate the position occupied by the ith person at time t, which is {1, 2, …, G}, where G indicates the total number of positions (here = 7). First, for all moves between position h and position g, we construct the difference in organizational status dit = SPit’—SPit, where t′ = t + 1. Second, we fit the following model: dit=∑gbgI(zit=g)−∑hbhI(zit′=h). (3) That is, we construct a design matrix that includes only effects for the source and destination positions of the move (i,t). The b parameters, then, are the estimated slope coefficients, which give us the status of each job title. “Owner” is our omitted category, and thus all other positions are indexed by how much lower in status they are than the position of owner.6 Further details and robustness checks are given in Appendix B. It is these scores that were used to assign vertical positions to the occupations in figure 1. Patterns of Mobility Leschziner (2015, 40) argues that the typical career path of leading chefs is that they rise in organizational (restaurant) status only to the position of cook or first cook (in our data, cook or chef de partie, respectively), before they begin exchanging organizational status for occupational status. Thus, if we were to position all actors in a two-dimensional space of organizational and occupational status, as in figure 2, we would expect to see successful trajectories looking like that charted in the solid curve; the other path, while in principle possible, would be far less likely. Figure 2. View largeDownload slide Ideal trajectories Figure 2. View largeDownload slide Ideal trajectories We test this with our data using the subset of persons on whom we have reasonably complete data. By “reasonably complete,” we mean persons listed as holding more than one job in the time period examined (resulting in at least one move), where the first job (chronologically) is either cook or intern (the two most common entry-level kitchen positions), and the top rank acquired is chef de cuisine or higher. This gives us an N of 448 careers, with 2,366 moves between them (for an average of 5.3 moves per career). Then, using our measures of occupational and organizational status, we turn each of these into a trajectory.7 First, we display a single trajectory, to make clear our approach (see figure 3). The dashed line is the actual observation; but to make it easy to distinguish different trajectories, we use a smoothing routine. Although the smoothing routine (Bezier curves) in this case understates the radicalness of the chef’s third move, which was to a lower-status position at a lower-status restaurant, the overall tendency of the trajectory is clear. In this case, we also note that the chef owned his or her own restaurant, which may be taken as the ultimate, but elusive, goal of most culinary professionals. But because the chef eventually moves to a lower position at a less prestigious restaurant, we can presume that the restaurant failed—a common outcome in this notoriously difficult industry.8 Figure 3. View largeDownload slide Example trajectory Figure 3. View largeDownload slide Example trajectory Now, graphing all trajectories at once is possible (see Appendix C, Figure C1), but it produces a figure far too busy to be very revealing. For clarity’s sake, here we instead present a random sample of 100 careers (see figure 4). We see two things. The first is that there is indeed, an overall tendency for careers to arc in a clockwise direction (as opposed to the opposite). But the second is that many careers are unusual, involving backtracking and/or leaps, in addition to the more “orderly” ones. This has important implications for our analytic strategy when we go on to explore heterogeneity within the set of chefs, as we attempt to understand the dispersion of career strategies. Figure 4. View largeDownload slide One hundred randomly sampled careers Figure 4. View largeDownload slide One hundred randomly sampled careers Strategies and Trajectories Changes over the Career We have noted that chefs churn through jobs, often trading one form of status for another. Indeed, as we saw in figure 4, the overall tendency is a decrease in organizational status and an increase in occupational status. In a very real sense, then, what chefs must try to do is to accumulate organizational status by being at an excellent restaurant, and then convert this into job advancement, by moving somewhere less prestigious. But not all trajectories are equally effective. Although all of the chefs in our sample have risen to a high level of occupational status (i.e., chef de cuisine or higher), they end their careers in restaurants of widely varying organizational status. Here, we explore this disparity, contrasting the most successful career trajectories with those leading to the least successful outcomes, in terms of each chef’s ultimate level of organizational status.9 Of course, there is considerable heterogeneity within chef’s careers. It would be ideal if we could empirically determine clusters of similar types of careers; however, as Warren et al. (2015) have demonstrated, such methods, while mathematically consistent, empirically perform unreliably. Instead, we divide our sample a priori into tiers based on each chef’s final organizational status. As noted above, because of the structure of the data, which necessarily samples on the dependent variable, we cannot compare the fates of, say, an incoming cohort of interns. Instead, we select only those for whom we have reasonably complete data, and compare those who ended up as chefs of higher-status restaurants to those who ended up chefs at lower-status ones. We create organizational status tiers by dividing chefs into eight even octiles, based on the highest-status restaurant at which each person achieved the rank of chef de cuisine or higher. We then preserve the highest and lowest octiles as the top and bottom tiers, and combine the remaining six octiles into tiers two, three, and four. Because of our stringent criteria for inclusion, the data are well balanced: the mean number of moves for chefs in each tier, from highest to lowest, is 5.2, 5.8, 5.7, 4.9, and 4.4. Next, because careers vary in duration, we divide each chef’s career into periods of three years each, based on the number of years since the chef first entered the field. Because chefs tend to move less frequently in the later stages of their careers, our last category includes all moves made in year ten or higher. To construct an average trajectory for each status tier, we thus group each chef’s moves in each period with those of all other chefs in the same tier. (We conducted the same analysis by dividing each chef’s career into equal quartiles of moves, and our results are unchanged.) Figure 5 charts the trajectories of each of these tiers of chefs in the same form used above in figures 3 and 4. We give the average occupational, and average organizational, status for chefs in each tier over each of the four constructed time periods (each of which appears as a dot). By definition, the highest-tier chefs are those that end up at the highest vertical point. Since none of our lines cross, the highest line represents the highest tier of chefs, and so on. Note that by the nature of the career, individuals move from left (low kitchen positions) to the right (head chef and owner positions). Figure 5. View largeDownload slide Average trajectories, five tiers of chefs Figure 5. View largeDownload slide Average trajectories, five tiers of chefs There are two interesting things to note. The first is that the organizational status advantage of the to-be-top chefs is apparent very early in their career. We see this not only in figure 5, which shows their average over the first three years of their trajectory, but also in their very first jobs. Table 1 presents the data on organizational status of chef’s first position, giving not only the observed averages, but where the average value for each tier would sit on the distribution of all first jobs (the columns labeled “all starts”), and for all restaurants (“all restaurants”), in percentile terms. We see that there is a great spacing of the tiers at the very beginning. The hands that have been dealt are clearly quite different: the members of the to-be-highest tier start with considerably higher organizational status than the lower tiers. At the same time, as we see in figure 5, top-tier chefs actually start with lower occupational status than other chefs, presumably because they begin at more important restaurants with larger kitchens and, thus, more lower-tier positions.10 Table 1. Average Organizational Status of First Job, by Tier Organizational status tier Mean starting status Percentile (all starts) Percentile (all restaurants) Top 0.9036 83.71 96.57 2nd 0.8562 64.73 91.70 3rd 0.8137 51.34 82.63 4th 0.7551 31.25 62.87 Bottom 0.5924 7.14 15.34 Organizational status tier Mean starting status Percentile (all starts) Percentile (all restaurants) Top 0.9036 83.71 96.57 2nd 0.8562 64.73 91.70 3rd 0.8137 51.34 82.63 4th 0.7551 31.25 62.87 Bottom 0.5924 7.14 15.34 Table 1. Average Organizational Status of First Job, by Tier Organizational status tier Mean starting status Percentile (all starts) Percentile (all restaurants) Top 0.9036 83.71 96.57 2nd 0.8562 64.73 91.70 3rd 0.8137 51.34 82.63 4th 0.7551 31.25 62.87 Bottom 0.5924 7.14 15.34 Organizational status tier Mean starting status Percentile (all starts) Percentile (all restaurants) Top 0.9036 83.71 96.57 2nd 0.8562 64.73 91.70 3rd 0.8137 51.34 82.63 4th 0.7551 31.25 62.87 Bottom 0.5924 7.14 15.34 Because of the way that we have defined the tiers, the highest tier must consist of those who end up at the highest-status restaurants. But we have also seen that they tend to start higher than others. The strength of this pattern comes as a bit of a surprise, as restaurant work is one of those that, like being a doorman (Bearman 2005), seems to attract its occupants by kismet. As Leschziner (2015, 17, 19) notes, many chefs emphasize that they “stumbled in” to kitchen work. Given this, we might imagine that after initial placement, they would begin to re-sort, depending in part on skills, talent, ambition, connections, and luck. In figure 6, we compute tiers based on each chef’s initial position—the status of the restaurant in which they started. For ease of viewing, we here make three tiers—the top and bottom octiles, and then the middle six. The confidence bands indicate the central 85 percent of cases for the top and bottom tiers. We might imagine that we would see greatly widening bands over time, as many chefs who happened to start at a high-status restaurant find their way down to much lower-status restaurants, and vice versa. Of course, this happens to some extent, but the mixing is much less pronounced than we might imagine in a field where initial placement is largely random. Although chefs who start out in the bottom tier tend to rise in organizational status over time, only the top 18 percent of this group end their careers at or above the mean level of organizational status of those who began their careers in the middle tier. Further, compared to their peers from the middle and top tiers, chefs starting in the bottom tier tend to end their careers with lower levels of occupational status. We can see enduring disparities between the top and middle tiers as well. While chefs in these two groups end their careers with approximately equivalent levels of organizational status, chefs who started in the top tier end up in higher positions in the kitchen.11 Although our sample is not complete, for these results to be produced by selectivity would require that people enter, say, chefs of middling organizational status in the CRDB less often when they were downwardly mobile over their careers as opposed to when they were upwardly mobile. It is difficult to produce reasons why this would be the case.12 Figure 6. View largeDownload slide Average trajectories, defined by origin organizational status Figure 6. View largeDownload slide Average trajectories, defined by origin organizational status The second thing to note is that while in all cases, there is a tendency for organizational status to degrade over the course of the career, as occupational status rises, those in the top tier (defined by destination, not origin; see figure 5) actually gain an important boost in organizational status in the first several years of their careers. Finally, one might reasonably wonder if the patterns observed in figures 5 and 6 are driven by differential levels of formal training among chefs in each status tier. This does not appear to be the case. According to data available in the CRDB, 57 percent of chefs who begin their careers in our top tier have formal culinary training, compared to 54 percent of chefs in lower tiers (a statistically insignificant difference). Similarly, of chefs who end their careers in our top tier of restaurants, 54 percent went to culinary school (compared to 55 percent of chefs in the bottom four tiers). These numbers suggest that, although formal culinary training may have other benefits (those without training may be less likely to achieve the degree of status necessary to be included in the CRDB), it has little effect on either initial position or career trajectory for those who eventually become head chefs in our sample. Again, we emphasize that in these analyses, and those to follow, the particular effect of status advantage we observe in our sample is unlikely to be the same as in the population, even if we restrict our population of interest to the relatively high-status chefs in the field of cuisine. However, since our data is likely to disproportionately include high-status chefs and restaurants while omitting those of lower status, this skewed sample should result in a conservative bias for such comparisons. Thus, we can reasonably conclude that initial position has a considerable and enduring effect on a chef’s career trajectory. Types of Moves Having observed the different trajectories of chefs in each of these status tiers, and the relative importance of initial placement on a chef’s ultimate outcome, we next wish to see if chefs in these tiers differ in the kinds of moves they make (and when they make them) on the way to these different destinations. For this, we code every move according to its change (i.e., increase, decrease, or no change) in both organizational and occupational status. Cross-classifying these leads to nine possible categories of movement. On the diagonal are moves in which both forms of status increased, decreased, or stayed the same, and off the diagonal, we have moves that privileged (deliberately or not) increasing or maintaining one form of status at the expense of the other. Figure 7 below shows the proportion of moves that involve an increase in both forms of status in each career period. Here, we see that those who become top-tier chefs are unusually likely to experience such happy events in the first three years of their careers. Thus, this group’s early gains in organizational status (seen in figure 5) are to some extent because these chefs are far more likely to be able to swing early transitions in which both organizational and occupational status rise together. Figure 7. View largeDownload slide Probability that a move is up in both occupational and organizational status Figure 7. View largeDownload slide Probability that a move is up in both occupational and organizational status Thus, if those who become top-tier chefs have been dealt an unusually good hand, they also play their hand differently. Most importantly, they push for organizational status early in their career, only focusing on occupational status later on (Leschziner 2015, 40). In fact, we find that moves in which occupational status increases but organizational status decreases are very common, constituting a fifth of all observed moves. Yet the future top-tier chefs are least likely to make this trade early on, despite having the most organizational status to give up. Figure 8 shows the ratio of those giving up occupational status for organizational status to those making the reverse trade. While this is still an unusual direction of the trade-off, far more (future) top-tier chefs trade in this direction in the early-middle of their careers. In contrast, the lowest-tier chefs are much less likely to make initial investments in organizational status. Thus, chefs low in organizational status are least likely to exchange occupational status for organizational status early in their careers, when it would do the most for them. In contrast, the highest-tier chefs are more likely to climb to better restaurants in the first several years of their career, even if it requires a (temporary) decrease in occupational status. Figure 8. View largeDownload slide Ratio of trading occupational for organizational status, as opposed to vice versa Figure 8. View largeDownload slide Ratio of trading occupational for organizational status, as opposed to vice versa The strategy of the lowest tier—or, more precisely, the career decisions that lead one to end up as part of the lowest tier—is perhaps best seen in terms of their general tendency to take moves that privilege occupational status over organizational status. Let us divide up all the off-diagonal transitions into whether occupational status was favored over organizational, or the reverse. (For example, going down in organizational status, but staying the same in occupational, is counted as “favoring” occupational status.) We then make a ratio of the proportion of moves (for any tier in any career period) that involve trading occupational-for-organizational status to the proportion that involves the reverse trade. Figure 9 then graphs these ratios. We see very clearly that, in contrast to the other tiers, the lowest-tier chefs appear to favor occupational status from the beginning of their careers, though this difference in realized preference narrows in the latter years of their career trajectories. Figure 9. View largeDownload slide Tendency toward occupational over organizational status Figure 9. View largeDownload slide Tendency toward occupational over organizational status It is worth reiterating that, by nature of our selection on those who became chefs, and our division of the careers into bins, we know that at some point the lowest tier will be more likely than others to increase (decrease) in occupational (organizational) status, and vice versa for the highest tier. What is of interest here is when in the career it seems to happen. What we see is that not only do those who become chefs at the most prestigious restaurants typically begin their careers in high-status kitchens, they also parlay their initial good hand into additional organizational status, pursuing this later into their careers than other chefs. By contrast, the lowest-tier chefs begin their careers in low-status restaurants, then spend their early years doggedly pursuing promotions, as opposed to positions at better restaurants. Only in the later stages of their careers does this apparent preference for occupational status begin to wane, and at no point does their pursuit of organizational status reach the levels exhibited by the highest tier early on. They have, in a sense, given up striving for a higher position in the larger field—to the extent that they ever strived for such a position at all. Conclusion We have examined a selection of professionals in a particularly complex institutional context: chefs, as others have emphasized, are torn between dualities and must continually manage multiple trade-offs (Fine 1996; Lane 2014; Leschziner 2015). First, they must strive for recognition from peers and from critics, yet they cannot afford to ignore the tastes of paying customers. A painter without a gallery is still a painter; a chef without a restaurant is no longer a chef (Leschziner 2015, 127). Second, they must establish a distinct identity while pleasing customers; thus, they must create “new” dishes that still “make sense” and fit more or less within existing cognitive categories that diners and critics have. Finally, they must juggle the trade-off between the status of their restaurant, and the status of their specific position within the restaurant. It is the last of these trade-offs that we have examined here. These dilemmas are common to all chefs seeking to be recognized in the field of cuisine. But we have seen important differences in how chefs respond to these pressures—differences that predict their eventual outcomes. Most surprisingly, the future top tier begins to peel away from the pack in the very early stages of their careers. If chefs “stumble in” to their first positions, it seems to be very consequential which door they happen to stumble in through. Of course, it may be that there is some re-sorting that occurs very early in the life course, and which does not leave a record in the CRDB. Perhaps a future top chef started working as a dishwasher in a low-status restaurant, decided to become a chef, and then sought out an entry-level cooking position in a high-status restaurant. Such turbulence might not be reflected in our data. Nonetheless, our analysis still shows that by the time they are taking on relatively low-level positions, future top-tier chefs are disproportionately likely to be in high-status restaurants. On the basis of our findings, and the findings of previous research, we propose that the most likely explanation of this stickiness involves the importance of personal networks in career path, and the importance of a specific set of personal, as opposed to technical, skills. Kitchen work is collaborative, and involves a set of workers in a relatively small space, working often at a very fast pace, and encountering highly interdependent task demands. Further, the kitchen is often a hot and noisy place; tempers easily rise with temperatures. Finally, it is not insignificant that workers frequently find themselves with knives and iron pans in their hands. This is an environment in which certain temperaments make for organizational failure, even if joined with significant technical or creative skill (Leschziner 2015, 25). In such an environment, there are aspects of character, easily described to others with vivid, if non-technical, terms (“he’s a jerk” versus “he’s a pretty cool guy”), that may shape the possibility of future employment. Some, of course, find that they lack certain required personality characteristics and, to follow the old adage, “get out of the kitchen” because they “can’t stand the heat.” But by including only those with complete careers from entry level to head chef or beyond, we have omitted such exiters from our sample. Hence it is unlikely that it is the presence of such explosive temperaments that determines career success in our sample. Instead, we propose that being tapped into a network of those established at high-status restaurants has two potential benefits for low-level kitchen staff. First, the social ties formed through interactions with other employees provide the positive character recommendations that facilitate future movement to other high-status restaurants. Given that professional chefs tend to emphasize the importance of learning “on the job,” these personal characteristics probably outweigh most other possible bases of evaluation. Next, for new job entrants, the careers of their more established colleagues may act as models to inform their own employment decisions. To find a blueprint for success, ambitious young cooks at acclaimed restaurants need look no further than their own workplaces. Of course, at a certain stage, the accomplishments of the chef begin to be noticeable, and may also affect career trajectory. Not only do those in the top tier get to higher-status restaurants very early in their careers, but they maintain upward mobility in organizational status longer than do other chefs, who begin the process of converting organizational status to occupational status earlier. We began by noting that most research had focused on special cases in which the loci of careers were organized either by a structure of occupations that differed in status, or a set of status-ordered organizations, but not both. But the core problematic in many types of careers involves precisely how one operates in a space of possibilities structured by both of these dimensions. Here we have outlined a general approach to studying such careers: one examines which sorts of trajectories seem to be associated with success. This can be understood as a particular pathway in a two-dimensional space. In the case of chefs, we see a generally clockwise motion, in that that successful careers tend to begin at high-status restaurants, increase further in organizational status, and then convert organizational status into occupational status. This also tells us something about the temporality of careers: in this case, that deferring promotion in favor of organizational status in the early career yields benefits later on, a possible reflection of the field’s emphasis on expertise through hands-on experience (Fine 1996; Leschziner 2015). In other cases, however, we would expect this temporal structure to look quite different. In municipal law enforcement, for example, it is common for officers to first rise to the level of police chief in a smaller town, before moving to leadership roles in progressively larger (i.e., higher-status) cities—thereby pursuing a “counterclockwise” strategy in our two-dimensional space. Understanding which trajectories “make sense” in a given field provides a fuller picture of the logics guiding individual actors, and allows us a way of envisioning the analytic distribution of possible strategies associated with different organizational fields. Notes 1 Like animal species, one can divide occupations into very coarse categories (for example, “construction worker” or “librarian”) or finer ones (for example, distinguishing skilled operating engineers from day laborers, or school librarians from heads of research libraries). Although previous work on occupational prestige (e.g., Duncan and Hodge 1963; Stevens and Featherman 1981) has generally used coarser categories, we use this notion to describe the more fine-grained ordering of roles often conflated under higher-level categorization schemas. 2 The term “chef” technically refers to the head of the kitchen (i.e., the chef de cuisine or executive chef)—a position not everyone in our dataset achieves. However, for brevity’s sake, we refer to all the individuals in our sample as “chefs.” 3 For other examples of studies focused on the high end of an otherwise sprawling creative field, see Giuffre (1999) and Godart, Shipilov, and Claes (2014). 4 This seed value is arbitrary. Due to the recursive nature of our measure, any seed value between 0 and 1 yields the same result. 5 Since this method tends to confound personnel turnover and status, we tested two variations on this measure that penalize restaurants with few ties to varying degrees. These did not change our results (see Appendix B). 6 Note that the move is the unit of analysis; that means that the determination of the spacing of our occupations on the interval scale is weighted toward the information coming from chefs who move more frequently. 7 Where an individual holds multiple positions simultaneously, we simply average the statuses. We note that we have replicated our analyses with more generous subsets of the data, and our conclusions were unchanged. 8 Because those chefs who do successfully open their own restaurant, if successful, may attempt to diversify by opening additional restaurants of varying statuses, we consider the organizational status of a chef-owner at any time to be the maximum of the organizational status of any restaurants s/he currently owns. 9 Because we restrict our sample to chefs who achieve a high level of occupational status, there is little variation in this outcome. For this reason, we define success here in terms of organizational status alone. 10 It is also possible that the search procedure used by CRDB contributors is more extensive regarding the top-tier chefs than it is for others, and that a second-tier chef might have an early job overlooked. 11 This comparison is a bit more difficult, as the top-tier chef careers tend to proceed beyond the mean terminal position of the middle tier, namely chef de cuisine. 12 It is possible that downwardly mobile chefs are less likely to enter their own information than upwardly mobile ones. Perhaps they take less pride in their careers, perhaps they do not view their work as worth documenting, or perhaps they are simply less ambitious. We do not deny this possibility, but it fails to explain the pattern of the highest-tier destination restaurants, where the information is generally entered by others. Finally, it may well be that chefs who started at lower-tier restaurants are less likely to have complete data, and are therefore excluded from our analysis. However, that would not bias comparisons of those starting from low-status restaurants. In sum, it seems unlikely that a pattern of selectivity explains away these very strong findings. Supplementary Material Supplementary material is available at Social Forces online. About the Authors Chad Borkenhagen is a sociology PhD candidate at the University of Chicago. He studies innovation, status, and culture in organizational fields. His work in this area has been previously published in Poetics and Social Studies of Science. John Levi Martin is the Florence Borchert Bartling Professor of Sociology at the University of Chicago. 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Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS Author notes We are grateful for readings by Matthew Bothner, Vanina Leschziner, Freda Lynn, Ingo Marquart, Craig Rawlings, Niko de Silva, and a number of anonymous reviewers whose comments and criticism greatly increased the clarity and strength of this paper. © The Author(s) 2018. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail: journals.permissions@oup.com. This article is published and distributed under the terms of the Oxford University Press, Standard Journals Publication Model (https://academic.oup.com/journals/pages/about_us/legal/notices) http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Social Forces Oxford University Press

Status and Career Mobility in Organizational Fields: Chefs and Restaurants in the United States, 1990–2013

Social Forces , Volume 97 (1) – Sep 1, 2018

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© The Author(s) 2018. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail: journals.permissions@oup.com.
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Abstract

Abstract Using a set of user-generated data, we examine patterns in the careers of professional chefs. We argue that this is one of many cases in which careers must be understood as shaped by dual structures—the typical occupational structure within a firm, and the organization of firms in a larger field. We then demonstrate how career trajectories may be formalized as movement through a two-dimensional space defined by status in these structures. Building on previous ethnographic work finding that chefs understand the logic of their careers as involving repeated trade-offs between their occupational status (their rank within the kitchen) and organizational status (the status of the restaurant at which they work), we attempt to determine how different trajectories are associated with different outcomes. We find that, despite the somewhat random nature of entrance into the culinary profession, future top-tier chefs disproportionately begin their careers at high-status restaurants. Beyond their auspicious beginnings, these top-chefs-to-be also commonly devote their early careers to maximizing organizational status, forgoing promotions to higher kitchen ranks in favor of low-level jobs at more prestigious restaurants. By comparison, chefs destined to run lower-status restaurants tend to spend their early careers prioritizing rapid advancement within the kitchen, only pursuing jobs at more prestigious restaurants much later in their careers, with limited success. Introduction A career, in contrast to a job, has a temporal logic (Spilerman 1977). Our most general sense of this temporal logic is simply that “people move up over time,” but the specificities of how and when such upward mobility takes place are a function of the particular constitution of the organizational field (DiMaggio and Powell 1983) and its institutional logic (Friedland and Alford 1991)—that is, the specific set of substantively similar organizations that are functional equivalents, and their shared set of meanings and practices. A career is recognizable as a career, in other words, only when it involves an orderly succession of stages that traverse a field in a certain way (Rosenfeld 1992). This movement can take different forms. While some careers consist of moving up a predetermined ladder of increasingly prestigious jobs within a single organization, others—such as those of freelancers—consist entirely of short-term relationships with multiple firms. A vast number of careers, however, exist between these two extremes. In medicine, law, software development, and academia, to name a few, individuals traverse a commonly understood hierarchy of occupational roles (which we shall call a “ladder”; for example, that connecting resident to attending to chief attending physician), often while also moving between organizations of varying levels of prestige. Despite the intuitive plausibility of this claim, most research on career mobility has, for reasons of tractability, focused on extreme cases: those where interorganizational movement is non-existent (which allows studying the internal labor market of a single firm), or those where movement between occupational roles is non-existent (which allows examining the organizational ties of a group of comparable cases, such as “freelance writers”). But in organizational fields where both forms of movement are common, we know much less about how careers that make subjective sense to participants are constructed (as, for example, “a rising star” or “dead wood”), and which constructions are deemed successes or failures. In a step toward a deeper understanding of such cases, we examine the careers of hundreds of chefs, as they attempt to juggle the conflicting imperatives of job rank and restaurant status. Chefs are, as Leschziner (2015) says, an interesting and understudied group. Their career patterns are different from the more commonly studied creative professions (Menger 1999), but these patterns are likely to be shared with other applied creative vocations. Those who become chefs often begin cooking as a “job,” and only later decide to pursue it as a career. These initial positions are low status, easy to get, and have few skill requirements. They may be chosen because a friend knows of a job (cf. Bearman 2005), and not because one was specifically looking for a career in the kitchen. Presumably, this “stumble-in” characteristic (Leschziner 2015, 17, 19) should lead to some degree of re-sorting after initial career stages. Some persons who stumbled into low-status entry-level jobs but have high skills and strong motivation will ascend (as will, perhaps, those with better social connections, favored diffuse statuses, or good luck); others, who stumbled into entry-level jobs in high-status organizations but lack skills and ambition, will tend to fall to less prestigious restaurants as they are pushed out of more elite kitchens by their more promising or more favored colleagues. A second key feature of professional cooking as a creative career is that although chefs desire creative autonomy, very few are in a position to neglect the tastes of their customers—unlike painters, for example, who can paint for curators, chefs cannot cook only for critics. Because chefs require restaurants (and thus, a steady stream of customers) to exhibit their work, commercial success and creative expression are interwoven in the culinary profession (Fine 1996; Lane 2014; Leschziner 2015). There is one last interesting aspect of the chef career. As we shall see, chefs have their own status closely associated with the status of the organizations at which they are employed (Rao, Monin, and Durand 2003). For this reason, their career process is closely bound up with the structuring of their organizational field. While a professor can generally pursue a successful career without continuous attention to the position of the organizations in which she works in an overall ecology, this is impossible for a chef. We begin with a brief discussion of the theoretical questions animating this project, then turn to the remarkable data that we use, and finally, move to analysis. Theory Individual and organizational status Chefs, like all people, often pursue many goals simultaneously. They may attempt to find a job in a more prestigious restaurant, move up the occupational hierarchy—or move to a nicer city, get away from an obnoxious colleague, or simply do something new. But whatever their other motivations, chefs at the high end of the field—those most oriented to the national-level field as such—must also attend to status concerns. While such an orientation to status is only one part of the institutional logic of a field, it is a formally simple one that facilitates comparison across substantively different arenas, and hence is a good place for building theory. As a result, the relation between status and such organizational principles remains of great interest in sociology (Sauder, Lynn, and Podolny 2012). As a vague notion of some sort of vertical organization of consensual esteem, the idea of “status” can be applied to very different units: individuals, families, jobs, or importantly, organizations. The organizations that comprise an organizational field are not simply located in a similar sector. They also often share suppliers, compete for customers, and are connected through the careers of their employees, who may have similar training, and share similar cultural models (DiMaggio and Powell 1983). As a result, these individuals commonly produce consensual status orderings of the organizations that compose the field (White 1981). These prestige-based hierarchies both reflect and reinforce the field’s social order, conferring advantage on high-status firms while hindering those of comparatively lower prestige (Benjamin and Podolny 1999; Phillips and Zuckerman 2001; Podolny 1994). But the flexibility with which the concept of status may be applied leads to certain puzzles for analysis; just as the organizations in a given field may be clearly ranked in status with regard to one another, so too may the occupations that form a ladder within these organizations. In such cases, we often do not simply equate individuals’ status with that of their organizations: a graduate student (i.e., a position of low prestige) at a high-status sociology department does not have more status than a professor at a medium-status sociology department. Indeed, in some cases, the status of the organization with which an individual is affiliated does not affect the individual’s status at all (Dubois and François 2013). For example, in the Hollywood studio system of the early twentieth century, because the major motion picture studios all produced A-, B-, and C-list films, working for any particular studio conveyed little information about an actor’s status. In other professions, however, the individual’s status is primarily driven by that of the organization. Such is the case in the field of cuisine, where a chef’s status is strongly associated with that of the restaurant at which she works. This tight coupling is most apparent for the executive chef, who is thought to be the sole creator of a restaurant’s food, and thus receives credit (or blame!) for its successes and failures (Lane 2014; Leschziner 2015). But a restaurant’s status has important implications for lower-level kitchen staff as well. At this level, where skills and talent are difficult to directly observe, individuals receive spillover status from the restaurants at which they work. Chefs understand that having worked at high-status restaurants improves their own standing, and commonly call attention to their most prestigious work experiences in biographies and interviews. Thus, the notion of organizational status gives us one way of beginning to develop a general framework for how careers make reference to the joint structuring of jobs and organizational fields. Careers, occupations, and organizations Careers can be understood as a series of particular jobs embedded in an organization field (Rosenfeld 1992). Thus, to understand a career’s trajectory, it is vital to account for each job’s status in relation to other jobs on the same ladder (which we shall call “occupational status”), as well as the status of the organization itself (hereafter “organizational status”).1 Previous work, however, has typically focused on just one or the other of these elements. One general line of research has viewed career trajectories in terms of the occupational status associated with each job in the individual’s work history. Early work in this vein regarded the “orderly” career as an ideal type in which the individual progresses from positions of lower status into those of relatively higher prestige over time (Slocum 1966; Wilensky 1960, 1961). Subsequent research, however, has noted that work histories often do not follow such a pattern. Individuals starting in the same position frequently embark upon quite different paths, with some moving up the occupational ladder in “orderly” fashion, while others plateau early, move downward, or switch industries altogether (Spilerman 1977). Since White (1970), a number of studies have explored the relationship between organizational structures and individual career advancement. But where this research explicitly ties career trajectories to environmental factors, it often restricts analysis to the “internal labor markets” that exist within a single, large organization (DiPrete and Soule 1986; Rosenbaum 1979; Stovel and Savage 2006). By examining only careers contained within a single organization, this work effectively holds organizational status constant. Research that has examined careers spanning multiple organizations, meanwhile, has tended to overlook organizational status as a factor driving mobility, even as it considers other organization-level characteristics (e.g., March and March 1977). A second vein of research has examined the careers of individuals as sequences of affiliations with different organizations over time. Much of this work focuses on occupations that are not arranged in a hierarchical ordering; for example, freelance professions such as photographers, filmmakers, or poets. Here, careers comprise many short-term projects, rather than longer-term relationships with any single employer. Within these professions, there is typically very little variation in occupational status per se—a photographer is simply a photographer, and so on. Thus, the main way such individuals move “upward” is not through promotion, but by forming new relationships with higher-status organizations. This research has found that the individual’s position within these networks of exchange often has considerable implications for her long-term success (Faulkner and Anderson 1987; Giuffre 1999), as well as the success of the projects themselves (Cattani and Ferriani 2008)—though the specifics of these dynamics vary considerably across contexts. Where some fields expect a steady upward trajectory and heavily penalize any downward movement whatsoever (Faulkner and Anderson 1987), others are more flexible in the patterns of affiliation that lead to the long-term success of individuals (Dubois and François 2013). These two lines of research have successfully investigated career trajectories in several industries and organization types. But in many fields, careers involve trade-offs between the status of a given job within an organization, and the status of the organization itself (DiMaggio and Powell 1983, 153). In a symphony orchestra, for example, the first chair in the violins is of higher occupational status than is the second chair, which is better than being a section player. But at the organizational level, some orchestras are higher status than others. Along these two dimensions, whether a musician finds it preferable to be, say, first violin in Baltimore or a section player in New York depends on that musician’s career path, history, and goals (Faulkner 1973; also see Frederickson and Rooney [1988]). For ambitious and talented young musicians, a first chair in a second-tier orchestra may be seen as a brief stop on the way to the top; for more experienced performers who have spent considerable time as section players in more remote locations, the same position may be considered a comfortable place to ride out a successful career. In both cases, focusing attention on occupational or organizational status alone will almost certainly fail to reveal the logic underlying each individual’s career decisions. When taken together, however, what might otherwise look like a set of “disorderly” career moves is instead revealed to be a rational sequence of trade-offs in pursuit of a particular position within a specific organization (Faulkner 1973; Westby 1959). The specific logics of these trade-offs differ from context to context. In some fields, there is a strong ratcheting effect in terms of occupational status; while a professor at a higher-status university might switch to a lower-status school to become a dean, say, it would be very rare for a dean at a low-status university to become a professor at a higher-status one. But in other fields, pursuing a career requires considering these trade-offs in either direction: should I go down in occupational status to increase organizational status, or vice versa? This is precisely the trade-off that Faulkner’s orchestra musicians consider, but we would expect similar dynamics in other fields where both job titles and organizations are clearly ranked. An engineer at MySpace might take a demotion to work at a higher-status company like Facebook or Google, while a junior associate at an elite law firm may improve her chances of making partner by moving to a less prestigious firm. But the specifics of these trade-offs depend on the characteristics of each organizational field. Beyond their effects on individual-level strategies and outcomes, these career logics also have important implications for organizations. As the literature on mobility networks demonstrates, the interorganizational ties formed through employee movement serve as conduits for critical strategic resources, such as social capital and technical expertise (Mawdsley and Somaya 2016). In some cases, this entails a transfer of resources that bolsters one firm while imperiling the other (Phillips 2002; Rao and Drazin 2002). Other times, however, such mobility produces new, mutually beneficial relationships between organizations (Corredoira and Rosenkopf 2010; Somaya, Williamson, and Lorinkova 2008). But the personnel moves that produce these organization-level effects are themselves embedded within careers driven by particular logics. Understanding these logics promises to reveal a vital link between the employment decisions of individuals and the interfirm mobility networks created through their actions. Data and Methods The Chef and Restaurant Database We here use a set of data on the careers of chefs2 known as the Chef and Restaurant Database (hereafter CRDB). Data from the CRDB were separately gathered and analyzed by Roberts, Negro, and Swaminathan (2013). Our data, collected in 2014, includes information on a total of 30,208 chefs occupying 53,091 positions at 22,331 restaurants around the world. When restricted to American restaurants active between 1990 and 2013, we are left with 8,274 chefs, 21,185 positions, and 7,250 restaurants. These data are “aficionado” produced; like other such data, they are not only incomplete, but tend to focus on the more interesting and popular cases. While some such databases can aspire to reasonable coverage (there are only so many Star Trek episodes), there are over half a million restaurants in the United States. But although the CRDB’s coverage is restricted to a small proportion of top chefs and establishments, it is precisely this fraction that properly comprises the “Field of Cuisine.” For it is this set of actors who are mutually aware of, and oriented to, one another’s existence and actions in their common pursuit of culinary excellence and critical recognition (Leschziner 2015). The tendency for this data to disproportionately cover the high end of all possible chefs and restaurants can be verified by examining the number of James Beard Foundation (JBF) award winners and nominees included in the database. Conferred once a year, these awards recognize chefs and restaurants in the United States in several categories, such as the “Rising Star” award for up-and-coming chefs, and the “Outstanding Service” award for restaurants. These awards are among the highest form of recognition for culinary excellence in the country, and the list of recipients and nominees includes some of the most prestigious chefs and restaurants in the field. This esteemed group is well represented in our data. Of the JBF’s chef and restaurant awards given between 1990 and 2013, the CRDB contains information on 100 percent of award winners and 93 percent of all nominees. Thus, while our sample is skewed to higher-status chefs and restaurants, this is the very population that is most relevant to our study.3 Still, because we have a non-random sample, no particular statistic derived from these data can simply be imputed to either the restricted population of the field of cuisine, or the more inclusive set of all restaurant workers. Rather than attempt such population parameter estimates, we instead focus on comparisons relevant to claims about the field’s unique career logics and the persistence of advantage. For these analyses, the data’s skew toward high-status chefs produces a sample that very likely understates the true differences between high- and low-status actors, resulting in biases that are conservative for our claims (results available from the authors). A bigger problem than the skew is the retrospective sampling. Data such as these lack what we would ideally want for a study of career progression—namely a random sample of an entering cohort of persons starting their careers, whom we could then follow until retirement or point of censoring. Instead, we have retrospective data; those who ended up as chefs in high-status restaurants have their earlier positions reported, while those who never made it big are unlikely to be represented. This would be an inherently problematic sampling on the dependent variable were we to try to explain the factors that predict achievement of high status. But our interest is not in predictions of success, but rather in the moves—the changes in job rank and restaurant—that professional chefs make in their career “ascent” (Fürstenberg 1969). Since we know that our disproportionately successful chefs will, overall, have a tendency to move “up” in some sense, we are interested in how this ascent is structured over time. In other words, how do these actors balance occupational and organizational status when choosing their next position, and how are these decisions patterned over the course of chefs’ careers? Determining Restaurant Status There are different ways of attempting to ascertain the status of an organization in a field. In a creative field such as the culinary arts, where critics assess quality and bestow recognition (Fine 1996; Lane 2014; Leschziner 2015), one obvious strategy would be to rank restaurants according to their reception among this vital audience of gatekeepers, either in terms of awards or restaurant reviews. In our case, however, there are several obstacles to this approach. Despite representing the top of the culinary field, only a small percentage of restaurants included in our dataset have received such major awards. Further, the variety of award types that are conferred by different groups do not lend themselves to an obvious hierarchy, making it difficult to rank even those restaurants that have been recognized. Restaurant reviews face a similar issue, in that a “four star” review by a critic in one city is not necessarily equivalent to that of another reviewer elsewhere. So, although these exogenous forms of recognition can be used to identify the utmost elite restaurants in our already high-end sample, they tell us little about the vast majority of restaurants in the field. In the absence of more explicit indicators of prestige, one common way to infer status is to use certain relations that connect the set of organizations, such as strategic partnerships or business transactions (Podolny and Phillips 1996; Stuart, Hoang, and Hybels 1999; see also Bothner, Smith, and White [2010]). One such set of relationships is the flow of personnel between organizations. For example, in examining the movement of PhDs between research universities, Burris (2004) observes that high-status departments commonly send their students to lower-status departments, but not vice versa. Burris finds that, in aggregate, these personnel flows form an exchange network whose structure reflects the field’s established prestige rankings. Indeed, this may be the best possible measure of status, as it involves an observable action that reveals preferences between specific organizations that the actor knows something about, as opposed to the low-stakes guesswork typically required in a survey-based rating-scale task, for example. A similar approach may be applied to ranking restaurants. Because frequent movement between kitchens is considered part of the culinary profession’s informal apprenticeship system, chefs leave a train of personnel flows that can be used to trace the structure of exchanges between restaurants. And although the culinary field’s status order is largely determined by a small group of exogenous critics, chefs are keenly aware of this hierarchy, and take it into consideration when contemplating their career moves. As a result, rather than bouncing around kitchens of widely disparate status, chefs tend to move between restaurants of similar levels of prestige (Leschziner 2015, 34). Thus, we can reasonably assume that these moves are patterned in a way that reflects this ranking, and a restaurant’s position within this structure corresponds to its relative status within the field. Although the movement of chefs between restaurants may reflect the status of those restaurants, there is also reason to believe that the measures most commonly used for this purpose, such as eigenvector or power centrality (Bonacich 1987), may not be appropriate for our specific application. Such measures are heavily influenced by a node’s degree, and in our case, the number of ties to and from our restaurants have more to do with kitchen size and turnover than with status itself. For this reason, we find it advantageous to anchor our measure to an unambiguous exogenous indicator of status—in this case, the James Beard Foundation’s award for outstanding restaurant. Given to 23 unique restaurants between 1990 and 2013, this award is one of the American culinary field’s most revered prizes. By identifying the very top of the field, we can then use the structure of exchanges between all restaurants to deduce the relative position of all other restaurants. In essence, we construct a network among the organizations, where a tie arises between organizations when an employee leaves one and goes to the other. We then use this network to assign status scores by assuming that moves directly between restaurants of very different status are uncommon. Let yit indicate the restaurant employing the ith person (out of N) at time t; thus y = {1, 2,…J}, where J is the number of restaurants. Thus, we may say yit = j (1 ≤ j ≤ J). We consider any pair (i,t) to be a “mover” if yit ≠ yit′, where t′ = t + 1. Of necessity, we use the year as our unit of observation (no finer information is present in our data). This means that when multiple moves occur within a single year, we cannot determine the direction of all moves. In this case, we create moves between all jobs held in that period, and assign them weights that sum to 1. We discuss this in greater detail in Appendix A. In the resultant network, we use a recursive algorithm to produce a status measure, somewhat akin to the PageRank algorithm (Page et al. 1999). Let xjk (=xkj) indicate the number of moves between restaurants j and k across all years included in our data; that is, xjk=∑i,tI(yit=j)I(yit′=k)wit (1) where I() is the indicator function and wit the weighting discussed in Appendix A. Using this set of moves between restaurants, we then construct the status of the jth restaurant SRj as follows. First, we anchor a select few restaurants as “top shelf,” based on whether they have received a James Beard Foundation award for Outstanding Restaurant. These 23 restaurants are assigned a fixed score of 1 (the maximum possible). For all other restaurants, a seed value of 0.5 is assigned, then a status score is determined iteratively as follows: Sjm+1R=1αj∑k=1JSkmRxjk (2) where m indicates the iteration, and αj is restaurant j’s total number of ties, plus one.4,5 This status score is calculated iteratively until scores converge within 10−7, then logged and rescaled for a range of [0, 1]. Note that the organizational status of the ith person at time t can be notated by substituting yit for j in SRj. For brevity’s sake, we will denote this as SPit (the status of person i at time t). Of course, this algorithm only retrieves a working proxy for the status of any restaurant, but this is true for all sociological methods. Yet, as in other studies, we will go on to demonstrate that this measure works well to organize the data in such a way as to shed light on chefs’ career choices. Organizational and Occupational Status The Structure of a Restaurant One of the complexities of examining career mobility for chefs is that restaurants vary in their structure of positions and, especially at lower levels, movement is, in Leschziner’s (2015, 24) words, stochastic, and not easily predicted. Yet at the higher levels, as she says, there is regularity—few become executive chefs without being sous chefs first, and fewer still become chef-owners without first being executive chefs. Figure 1 charts the career flows between occupational positions, including only the more common destinations for each origin position (those above the mean for that row; the data are found in Table A1, in Appendix A). The thickness of each line is proportional to the number of transitions between titles. Thus we see, for example, that most interns pass to the position of sous chef via the intermediate position of cook, while sous chefs most commonly move on to the higher positions of chef de cuisine and executive chef. Note that the arrows tend to point upward, indicating the general structure of a career. Figure 1. View largeDownload slide Career flows across positions Figure 1. View largeDownload slide Career flows across positions Anchoring Occupational Status to Organizational Status It would be convenient if we could assign these occupational ranks an interval status measure, just as we did for restaurants. We can do so by building on previous work that demonstrates that chefs understand the trade-off between organizational and occupational status—that, to move up in one form of status, one must generally move down in the other (Leschziner 2015, 40). Consider (for example) those who shift from being a sous chef at one restaurant to being a chef de cuisine at another. If, for all such moves, the average organizational status of the destination restaurant was (say) 0.345 points lower than that of the origin restaurant, we could consider the chef de cuisine to have an occupational status score 0.345 points higher than that of sous chef (since this is the average amount of organizational status one gives up to make this change in title). Of course, there is no guarantee that all these differences will perfectly fit an interval order; we therefore estimate the best-fitting order as follows. Let zit indicate the position occupied by the ith person at time t, which is {1, 2, …, G}, where G indicates the total number of positions (here = 7). First, for all moves between position h and position g, we construct the difference in organizational status dit = SPit’—SPit, where t′ = t + 1. Second, we fit the following model: dit=∑gbgI(zit=g)−∑hbhI(zit′=h). (3) That is, we construct a design matrix that includes only effects for the source and destination positions of the move (i,t). The b parameters, then, are the estimated slope coefficients, which give us the status of each job title. “Owner” is our omitted category, and thus all other positions are indexed by how much lower in status they are than the position of owner.6 Further details and robustness checks are given in Appendix B. It is these scores that were used to assign vertical positions to the occupations in figure 1. Patterns of Mobility Leschziner (2015, 40) argues that the typical career path of leading chefs is that they rise in organizational (restaurant) status only to the position of cook or first cook (in our data, cook or chef de partie, respectively), before they begin exchanging organizational status for occupational status. Thus, if we were to position all actors in a two-dimensional space of organizational and occupational status, as in figure 2, we would expect to see successful trajectories looking like that charted in the solid curve; the other path, while in principle possible, would be far less likely. Figure 2. View largeDownload slide Ideal trajectories Figure 2. View largeDownload slide Ideal trajectories We test this with our data using the subset of persons on whom we have reasonably complete data. By “reasonably complete,” we mean persons listed as holding more than one job in the time period examined (resulting in at least one move), where the first job (chronologically) is either cook or intern (the two most common entry-level kitchen positions), and the top rank acquired is chef de cuisine or higher. This gives us an N of 448 careers, with 2,366 moves between them (for an average of 5.3 moves per career). Then, using our measures of occupational and organizational status, we turn each of these into a trajectory.7 First, we display a single trajectory, to make clear our approach (see figure 3). The dashed line is the actual observation; but to make it easy to distinguish different trajectories, we use a smoothing routine. Although the smoothing routine (Bezier curves) in this case understates the radicalness of the chef’s third move, which was to a lower-status position at a lower-status restaurant, the overall tendency of the trajectory is clear. In this case, we also note that the chef owned his or her own restaurant, which may be taken as the ultimate, but elusive, goal of most culinary professionals. But because the chef eventually moves to a lower position at a less prestigious restaurant, we can presume that the restaurant failed—a common outcome in this notoriously difficult industry.8 Figure 3. View largeDownload slide Example trajectory Figure 3. View largeDownload slide Example trajectory Now, graphing all trajectories at once is possible (see Appendix C, Figure C1), but it produces a figure far too busy to be very revealing. For clarity’s sake, here we instead present a random sample of 100 careers (see figure 4). We see two things. The first is that there is indeed, an overall tendency for careers to arc in a clockwise direction (as opposed to the opposite). But the second is that many careers are unusual, involving backtracking and/or leaps, in addition to the more “orderly” ones. This has important implications for our analytic strategy when we go on to explore heterogeneity within the set of chefs, as we attempt to understand the dispersion of career strategies. Figure 4. View largeDownload slide One hundred randomly sampled careers Figure 4. View largeDownload slide One hundred randomly sampled careers Strategies and Trajectories Changes over the Career We have noted that chefs churn through jobs, often trading one form of status for another. Indeed, as we saw in figure 4, the overall tendency is a decrease in organizational status and an increase in occupational status. In a very real sense, then, what chefs must try to do is to accumulate organizational status by being at an excellent restaurant, and then convert this into job advancement, by moving somewhere less prestigious. But not all trajectories are equally effective. Although all of the chefs in our sample have risen to a high level of occupational status (i.e., chef de cuisine or higher), they end their careers in restaurants of widely varying organizational status. Here, we explore this disparity, contrasting the most successful career trajectories with those leading to the least successful outcomes, in terms of each chef’s ultimate level of organizational status.9 Of course, there is considerable heterogeneity within chef’s careers. It would be ideal if we could empirically determine clusters of similar types of careers; however, as Warren et al. (2015) have demonstrated, such methods, while mathematically consistent, empirically perform unreliably. Instead, we divide our sample a priori into tiers based on each chef’s final organizational status. As noted above, because of the structure of the data, which necessarily samples on the dependent variable, we cannot compare the fates of, say, an incoming cohort of interns. Instead, we select only those for whom we have reasonably complete data, and compare those who ended up as chefs of higher-status restaurants to those who ended up chefs at lower-status ones. We create organizational status tiers by dividing chefs into eight even octiles, based on the highest-status restaurant at which each person achieved the rank of chef de cuisine or higher. We then preserve the highest and lowest octiles as the top and bottom tiers, and combine the remaining six octiles into tiers two, three, and four. Because of our stringent criteria for inclusion, the data are well balanced: the mean number of moves for chefs in each tier, from highest to lowest, is 5.2, 5.8, 5.7, 4.9, and 4.4. Next, because careers vary in duration, we divide each chef’s career into periods of three years each, based on the number of years since the chef first entered the field. Because chefs tend to move less frequently in the later stages of their careers, our last category includes all moves made in year ten or higher. To construct an average trajectory for each status tier, we thus group each chef’s moves in each period with those of all other chefs in the same tier. (We conducted the same analysis by dividing each chef’s career into equal quartiles of moves, and our results are unchanged.) Figure 5 charts the trajectories of each of these tiers of chefs in the same form used above in figures 3 and 4. We give the average occupational, and average organizational, status for chefs in each tier over each of the four constructed time periods (each of which appears as a dot). By definition, the highest-tier chefs are those that end up at the highest vertical point. Since none of our lines cross, the highest line represents the highest tier of chefs, and so on. Note that by the nature of the career, individuals move from left (low kitchen positions) to the right (head chef and owner positions). Figure 5. View largeDownload slide Average trajectories, five tiers of chefs Figure 5. View largeDownload slide Average trajectories, five tiers of chefs There are two interesting things to note. The first is that the organizational status advantage of the to-be-top chefs is apparent very early in their career. We see this not only in figure 5, which shows their average over the first three years of their trajectory, but also in their very first jobs. Table 1 presents the data on organizational status of chef’s first position, giving not only the observed averages, but where the average value for each tier would sit on the distribution of all first jobs (the columns labeled “all starts”), and for all restaurants (“all restaurants”), in percentile terms. We see that there is a great spacing of the tiers at the very beginning. The hands that have been dealt are clearly quite different: the members of the to-be-highest tier start with considerably higher organizational status than the lower tiers. At the same time, as we see in figure 5, top-tier chefs actually start with lower occupational status than other chefs, presumably because they begin at more important restaurants with larger kitchens and, thus, more lower-tier positions.10 Table 1. Average Organizational Status of First Job, by Tier Organizational status tier Mean starting status Percentile (all starts) Percentile (all restaurants) Top 0.9036 83.71 96.57 2nd 0.8562 64.73 91.70 3rd 0.8137 51.34 82.63 4th 0.7551 31.25 62.87 Bottom 0.5924 7.14 15.34 Organizational status tier Mean starting status Percentile (all starts) Percentile (all restaurants) Top 0.9036 83.71 96.57 2nd 0.8562 64.73 91.70 3rd 0.8137 51.34 82.63 4th 0.7551 31.25 62.87 Bottom 0.5924 7.14 15.34 Table 1. Average Organizational Status of First Job, by Tier Organizational status tier Mean starting status Percentile (all starts) Percentile (all restaurants) Top 0.9036 83.71 96.57 2nd 0.8562 64.73 91.70 3rd 0.8137 51.34 82.63 4th 0.7551 31.25 62.87 Bottom 0.5924 7.14 15.34 Organizational status tier Mean starting status Percentile (all starts) Percentile (all restaurants) Top 0.9036 83.71 96.57 2nd 0.8562 64.73 91.70 3rd 0.8137 51.34 82.63 4th 0.7551 31.25 62.87 Bottom 0.5924 7.14 15.34 Because of the way that we have defined the tiers, the highest tier must consist of those who end up at the highest-status restaurants. But we have also seen that they tend to start higher than others. The strength of this pattern comes as a bit of a surprise, as restaurant work is one of those that, like being a doorman (Bearman 2005), seems to attract its occupants by kismet. As Leschziner (2015, 17, 19) notes, many chefs emphasize that they “stumbled in” to kitchen work. Given this, we might imagine that after initial placement, they would begin to re-sort, depending in part on skills, talent, ambition, connections, and luck. In figure 6, we compute tiers based on each chef’s initial position—the status of the restaurant in which they started. For ease of viewing, we here make three tiers—the top and bottom octiles, and then the middle six. The confidence bands indicate the central 85 percent of cases for the top and bottom tiers. We might imagine that we would see greatly widening bands over time, as many chefs who happened to start at a high-status restaurant find their way down to much lower-status restaurants, and vice versa. Of course, this happens to some extent, but the mixing is much less pronounced than we might imagine in a field where initial placement is largely random. Although chefs who start out in the bottom tier tend to rise in organizational status over time, only the top 18 percent of this group end their careers at or above the mean level of organizational status of those who began their careers in the middle tier. Further, compared to their peers from the middle and top tiers, chefs starting in the bottom tier tend to end their careers with lower levels of occupational status. We can see enduring disparities between the top and middle tiers as well. While chefs in these two groups end their careers with approximately equivalent levels of organizational status, chefs who started in the top tier end up in higher positions in the kitchen.11 Although our sample is not complete, for these results to be produced by selectivity would require that people enter, say, chefs of middling organizational status in the CRDB less often when they were downwardly mobile over their careers as opposed to when they were upwardly mobile. It is difficult to produce reasons why this would be the case.12 Figure 6. View largeDownload slide Average trajectories, defined by origin organizational status Figure 6. View largeDownload slide Average trajectories, defined by origin organizational status The second thing to note is that while in all cases, there is a tendency for organizational status to degrade over the course of the career, as occupational status rises, those in the top tier (defined by destination, not origin; see figure 5) actually gain an important boost in organizational status in the first several years of their careers. Finally, one might reasonably wonder if the patterns observed in figures 5 and 6 are driven by differential levels of formal training among chefs in each status tier. This does not appear to be the case. According to data available in the CRDB, 57 percent of chefs who begin their careers in our top tier have formal culinary training, compared to 54 percent of chefs in lower tiers (a statistically insignificant difference). Similarly, of chefs who end their careers in our top tier of restaurants, 54 percent went to culinary school (compared to 55 percent of chefs in the bottom four tiers). These numbers suggest that, although formal culinary training may have other benefits (those without training may be less likely to achieve the degree of status necessary to be included in the CRDB), it has little effect on either initial position or career trajectory for those who eventually become head chefs in our sample. Again, we emphasize that in these analyses, and those to follow, the particular effect of status advantage we observe in our sample is unlikely to be the same as in the population, even if we restrict our population of interest to the relatively high-status chefs in the field of cuisine. However, since our data is likely to disproportionately include high-status chefs and restaurants while omitting those of lower status, this skewed sample should result in a conservative bias for such comparisons. Thus, we can reasonably conclude that initial position has a considerable and enduring effect on a chef’s career trajectory. Types of Moves Having observed the different trajectories of chefs in each of these status tiers, and the relative importance of initial placement on a chef’s ultimate outcome, we next wish to see if chefs in these tiers differ in the kinds of moves they make (and when they make them) on the way to these different destinations. For this, we code every move according to its change (i.e., increase, decrease, or no change) in both organizational and occupational status. Cross-classifying these leads to nine possible categories of movement. On the diagonal are moves in which both forms of status increased, decreased, or stayed the same, and off the diagonal, we have moves that privileged (deliberately or not) increasing or maintaining one form of status at the expense of the other. Figure 7 below shows the proportion of moves that involve an increase in both forms of status in each career period. Here, we see that those who become top-tier chefs are unusually likely to experience such happy events in the first three years of their careers. Thus, this group’s early gains in organizational status (seen in figure 5) are to some extent because these chefs are far more likely to be able to swing early transitions in which both organizational and occupational status rise together. Figure 7. View largeDownload slide Probability that a move is up in both occupational and organizational status Figure 7. View largeDownload slide Probability that a move is up in both occupational and organizational status Thus, if those who become top-tier chefs have been dealt an unusually good hand, they also play their hand differently. Most importantly, they push for organizational status early in their career, only focusing on occupational status later on (Leschziner 2015, 40). In fact, we find that moves in which occupational status increases but organizational status decreases are very common, constituting a fifth of all observed moves. Yet the future top-tier chefs are least likely to make this trade early on, despite having the most organizational status to give up. Figure 8 shows the ratio of those giving up occupational status for organizational status to those making the reverse trade. While this is still an unusual direction of the trade-off, far more (future) top-tier chefs trade in this direction in the early-middle of their careers. In contrast, the lowest-tier chefs are much less likely to make initial investments in organizational status. Thus, chefs low in organizational status are least likely to exchange occupational status for organizational status early in their careers, when it would do the most for them. In contrast, the highest-tier chefs are more likely to climb to better restaurants in the first several years of their career, even if it requires a (temporary) decrease in occupational status. Figure 8. View largeDownload slide Ratio of trading occupational for organizational status, as opposed to vice versa Figure 8. View largeDownload slide Ratio of trading occupational for organizational status, as opposed to vice versa The strategy of the lowest tier—or, more precisely, the career decisions that lead one to end up as part of the lowest tier—is perhaps best seen in terms of their general tendency to take moves that privilege occupational status over organizational status. Let us divide up all the off-diagonal transitions into whether occupational status was favored over organizational, or the reverse. (For example, going down in organizational status, but staying the same in occupational, is counted as “favoring” occupational status.) We then make a ratio of the proportion of moves (for any tier in any career period) that involve trading occupational-for-organizational status to the proportion that involves the reverse trade. Figure 9 then graphs these ratios. We see very clearly that, in contrast to the other tiers, the lowest-tier chefs appear to favor occupational status from the beginning of their careers, though this difference in realized preference narrows in the latter years of their career trajectories. Figure 9. View largeDownload slide Tendency toward occupational over organizational status Figure 9. View largeDownload slide Tendency toward occupational over organizational status It is worth reiterating that, by nature of our selection on those who became chefs, and our division of the careers into bins, we know that at some point the lowest tier will be more likely than others to increase (decrease) in occupational (organizational) status, and vice versa for the highest tier. What is of interest here is when in the career it seems to happen. What we see is that not only do those who become chefs at the most prestigious restaurants typically begin their careers in high-status kitchens, they also parlay their initial good hand into additional organizational status, pursuing this later into their careers than other chefs. By contrast, the lowest-tier chefs begin their careers in low-status restaurants, then spend their early years doggedly pursuing promotions, as opposed to positions at better restaurants. Only in the later stages of their careers does this apparent preference for occupational status begin to wane, and at no point does their pursuit of organizational status reach the levels exhibited by the highest tier early on. They have, in a sense, given up striving for a higher position in the larger field—to the extent that they ever strived for such a position at all. Conclusion We have examined a selection of professionals in a particularly complex institutional context: chefs, as others have emphasized, are torn between dualities and must continually manage multiple trade-offs (Fine 1996; Lane 2014; Leschziner 2015). First, they must strive for recognition from peers and from critics, yet they cannot afford to ignore the tastes of paying customers. A painter without a gallery is still a painter; a chef without a restaurant is no longer a chef (Leschziner 2015, 127). Second, they must establish a distinct identity while pleasing customers; thus, they must create “new” dishes that still “make sense” and fit more or less within existing cognitive categories that diners and critics have. Finally, they must juggle the trade-off between the status of their restaurant, and the status of their specific position within the restaurant. It is the last of these trade-offs that we have examined here. These dilemmas are common to all chefs seeking to be recognized in the field of cuisine. But we have seen important differences in how chefs respond to these pressures—differences that predict their eventual outcomes. Most surprisingly, the future top tier begins to peel away from the pack in the very early stages of their careers. If chefs “stumble in” to their first positions, it seems to be very consequential which door they happen to stumble in through. Of course, it may be that there is some re-sorting that occurs very early in the life course, and which does not leave a record in the CRDB. Perhaps a future top chef started working as a dishwasher in a low-status restaurant, decided to become a chef, and then sought out an entry-level cooking position in a high-status restaurant. Such turbulence might not be reflected in our data. Nonetheless, our analysis still shows that by the time they are taking on relatively low-level positions, future top-tier chefs are disproportionately likely to be in high-status restaurants. On the basis of our findings, and the findings of previous research, we propose that the most likely explanation of this stickiness involves the importance of personal networks in career path, and the importance of a specific set of personal, as opposed to technical, skills. Kitchen work is collaborative, and involves a set of workers in a relatively small space, working often at a very fast pace, and encountering highly interdependent task demands. Further, the kitchen is often a hot and noisy place; tempers easily rise with temperatures. Finally, it is not insignificant that workers frequently find themselves with knives and iron pans in their hands. This is an environment in which certain temperaments make for organizational failure, even if joined with significant technical or creative skill (Leschziner 2015, 25). In such an environment, there are aspects of character, easily described to others with vivid, if non-technical, terms (“he’s a jerk” versus “he’s a pretty cool guy”), that may shape the possibility of future employment. Some, of course, find that they lack certain required personality characteristics and, to follow the old adage, “get out of the kitchen” because they “can’t stand the heat.” But by including only those with complete careers from entry level to head chef or beyond, we have omitted such exiters from our sample. Hence it is unlikely that it is the presence of such explosive temperaments that determines career success in our sample. Instead, we propose that being tapped into a network of those established at high-status restaurants has two potential benefits for low-level kitchen staff. First, the social ties formed through interactions with other employees provide the positive character recommendations that facilitate future movement to other high-status restaurants. Given that professional chefs tend to emphasize the importance of learning “on the job,” these personal characteristics probably outweigh most other possible bases of evaluation. Next, for new job entrants, the careers of their more established colleagues may act as models to inform their own employment decisions. To find a blueprint for success, ambitious young cooks at acclaimed restaurants need look no further than their own workplaces. Of course, at a certain stage, the accomplishments of the chef begin to be noticeable, and may also affect career trajectory. Not only do those in the top tier get to higher-status restaurants very early in their careers, but they maintain upward mobility in organizational status longer than do other chefs, who begin the process of converting organizational status to occupational status earlier. We began by noting that most research had focused on special cases in which the loci of careers were organized either by a structure of occupations that differed in status, or a set of status-ordered organizations, but not both. But the core problematic in many types of careers involves precisely how one operates in a space of possibilities structured by both of these dimensions. Here we have outlined a general approach to studying such careers: one examines which sorts of trajectories seem to be associated with success. This can be understood as a particular pathway in a two-dimensional space. In the case of chefs, we see a generally clockwise motion, in that that successful careers tend to begin at high-status restaurants, increase further in organizational status, and then convert organizational status into occupational status. This also tells us something about the temporality of careers: in this case, that deferring promotion in favor of organizational status in the early career yields benefits later on, a possible reflection of the field’s emphasis on expertise through hands-on experience (Fine 1996; Leschziner 2015). In other cases, however, we would expect this temporal structure to look quite different. In municipal law enforcement, for example, it is common for officers to first rise to the level of police chief in a smaller town, before moving to leadership roles in progressively larger (i.e., higher-status) cities—thereby pursuing a “counterclockwise” strategy in our two-dimensional space. Understanding which trajectories “make sense” in a given field provides a fuller picture of the logics guiding individual actors, and allows us a way of envisioning the analytic distribution of possible strategies associated with different organizational fields. Notes 1 Like animal species, one can divide occupations into very coarse categories (for example, “construction worker” or “librarian”) or finer ones (for example, distinguishing skilled operating engineers from day laborers, or school librarians from heads of research libraries). Although previous work on occupational prestige (e.g., Duncan and Hodge 1963; Stevens and Featherman 1981) has generally used coarser categories, we use this notion to describe the more fine-grained ordering of roles often conflated under higher-level categorization schemas. 2 The term “chef” technically refers to the head of the kitchen (i.e., the chef de cuisine or executive chef)—a position not everyone in our dataset achieves. However, for brevity’s sake, we refer to all the individuals in our sample as “chefs.” 3 For other examples of studies focused on the high end of an otherwise sprawling creative field, see Giuffre (1999) and Godart, Shipilov, and Claes (2014). 4 This seed value is arbitrary. Due to the recursive nature of our measure, any seed value between 0 and 1 yields the same result. 5 Since this method tends to confound personnel turnover and status, we tested two variations on this measure that penalize restaurants with few ties to varying degrees. These did not change our results (see Appendix B). 6 Note that the move is the unit of analysis; that means that the determination of the spacing of our occupations on the interval scale is weighted toward the information coming from chefs who move more frequently. 7 Where an individual holds multiple positions simultaneously, we simply average the statuses. We note that we have replicated our analyses with more generous subsets of the data, and our conclusions were unchanged. 8 Because those chefs who do successfully open their own restaurant, if successful, may attempt to diversify by opening additional restaurants of varying statuses, we consider the organizational status of a chef-owner at any time to be the maximum of the organizational status of any restaurants s/he currently owns. 9 Because we restrict our sample to chefs who achieve a high level of occupational status, there is little variation in this outcome. For this reason, we define success here in terms of organizational status alone. 10 It is also possible that the search procedure used by CRDB contributors is more extensive regarding the top-tier chefs than it is for others, and that a second-tier chef might have an early job overlooked. 11 This comparison is a bit more difficult, as the top-tier chef careers tend to proceed beyond the mean terminal position of the middle tier, namely chef de cuisine. 12 It is possible that downwardly mobile chefs are less likely to enter their own information than upwardly mobile ones. Perhaps they take less pride in their careers, perhaps they do not view their work as worth documenting, or perhaps they are simply less ambitious. We do not deny this possibility, but it fails to explain the pattern of the highest-tier destination restaurants, where the information is generally entered by others. Finally, it may well be that chefs who started at lower-tier restaurants are less likely to have complete data, and are therefore excluded from our analysis. However, that would not bias comparisons of those starting from low-status restaurants. In sum, it seems unlikely that a pattern of selectivity explains away these very strong findings. Supplementary Material Supplementary material is available at Social Forces online. About the Authors Chad Borkenhagen is a sociology PhD candidate at the University of Chicago. He studies innovation, status, and culture in organizational fields. His work in this area has been previously published in Poetics and Social Studies of Science. John Levi Martin is the Florence Borchert Bartling Professor of Sociology at the University of Chicago. 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Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS Author notes We are grateful for readings by Matthew Bothner, Vanina Leschziner, Freda Lynn, Ingo Marquart, Craig Rawlings, Niko de Silva, and a number of anonymous reviewers whose comments and criticism greatly increased the clarity and strength of this paper. © The Author(s) 2018. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail: journals.permissions@oup.com. This article is published and distributed under the terms of the Oxford University Press, Standard Journals Publication Model (https://academic.oup.com/journals/pages/about_us/legal/notices)

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Social ForcesOxford University Press

Published: Sep 1, 2018

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