Daphne Demetry, Assistant Professor in Strategy & Organization, awarded 2019 SSHRC Insight Development Grant
The Practice of Ranking Restaurants: Creating Evaluative Structures and a Community of Valuation
Rankings are everywhere. For example, companies are ranked as being the best (and worst) to work for, cities are ranked by their quality of life, and universities are ranked on their research outputs. With the expansion of rankings in our daily lives, a systematic analysis of how actors create rankings – especially non-experts, or “the crowd” – is needed more than ever. In order to answer this question, we plan to conduct an inductive study of restaurant rankings. In the world of dining out, rankings are both commonplace and contentious. While rankings have significant economic impact on restaurants, the process by which restaurants are ranked is especially opaque (e.g., Michelin uses trained anonymous inspectors). We will gather multiple sources of qualitative data - interviews, observations, and secondary online documents - to achieve the following objectives:
- Investigate the micro-level strategies and tools reviewers use to evaluate their dining experience.
- Explore how dispersed reviewers collaborate to create a meaningful ranking system with a shared language and criteria for evaluating objects.
This study will provide insight into the black box of ranking creation, which will be of interest to restaurant goers, many of whom participate in online evaluations themselves, and also chefs and restauranteurs, who can use our findings to better understand their diners and the experience they provide.