Balázs Kovács (Yale School of Management) előadása: Boundary Kinking in Public Grading Schemes: The Effects of Tie Strength in Social Relationships

   2018. március 27.

Mindenkit szeretettel várunk az MTA TK "Lendület" RECENS  hálózati előadás-sorozatának következő alkalmára 2018. március 27-én (kedden), melyen Balázs Kovács (Yale School of Management) tart előadást. Az előadás nyelve angol.

Az előadás megrendezésére az MTA TK "Lendület" RECENS Kutatócsoport tárgyalótermében (MTA Humán Tudományok Kutatóháza, 1097 Budapest, Tóth Kálmán utca 4., T. épület, 1. emelet, 40. szoba) kerül sor 16:00-ás kezdettel.


Balázs Kovács

Yale School of Management


Boundary Kinking in Public Grading Schemes:

The Effects of Tie Strength in Social Relationships (co-authored with David W. Lehman, University of Virginia and Glenn R. Carroll, Stanford University)


Discontinuities frequently appear in the distribution of scores underlying the grades of public regulation schemes such as restaurant hygiene inspections. The typical study of such discontinuities conceives of them as representing rational behavioral responses to incentives inherent in the scheme itself. By contrast, we study how the evolving social relationship between an inspector and a restaurant influences grading outcomes in a systematic manner. Specifically, we consider variations in the strength of the social tie between an inspector and a restaurateur, conceived as a function of duration and interaction frequency. We study 425,779 inspections in Los Angeles County between 2000 and 2010, conducted by 557 inspectors in 26,724 restaurants.

We find that the stronger the social tie between an inspector and a restaurateur, the more likely the inspector will be to “fudge” upward the hygiene inspection score. When aggregated, this behavior produces discontinuities – or kinks – in the distribution of scores occurring around the grade category boundaries. This behavior appears to be part of an implicit quid pro quo

agreement: a lenient inspection in exchange for the restaurateur not requesting a re-examination.

Importantly, the behavior generates public costs: a restaurant whose score is adjusted upwards is subsequently more likely to receive a customer complaint. These findings offer insight into how commensuration operates in the context of regulatory grading schemes and point to a range of implications for sociological theory.


Keywords: categories, grades, kinks, public hygiene, inspections, social ties, commensuration



Professor Kovács studies various topics in organization theory and strategy, including social networks, learning, diffusion, organizational identity, and status. He has investigated these issues in a variety of settings, including restaurants, movies, book publishing, innovation and patenting, and banks. His current work investigates the effects of category spanning and innovation in technological domains. Professor Kovács typically uses large-scale, “big data” approaches to study these questions, analyzing online reviews and social networks. His research appears in journals such as Administrative Science Quarterly, American Sociological Review, Organization Science, Management Science, and Social Networks.


Professor Kovács received his PhD from the Graduate School of Business at Stanford University. Prior to joining the Yale School of Management, he was an assistant professor at the University of Lugano, Switzerland.