Chad Borkenhagen, Columbia University

Culinary Careers: Navigating Rank and Status in a Creative Organizational Field
Chad Borkenhagen


Winter 2020
Lecture Time: 
Friday, January 31, 2020 - 1:30pm to 3:00pm
Lecture Location: 
R0220 Ross School of Business


As the product of repeated negotiations between individuals and the organizations in which they are embedded, careers reflect a range of factors, from personal skills and connections, to the particular institutional logics governing an organizational field. Drawing on a crowdsourced dataset of chefs and restaurants, we examine how these factors shape careers in the field of fine dining. Building on previous ethnographic work finding that chefs understand the logic of their careers as involving repeated tradeoffs between occupational status (their rank within the kitchen), and organizational status (the standing of the restaurant at which they work), we explore how particular patterns of these tradeoffs are associated with different career outcomes. Our results show that a single occupation can contain multiple, competing career logics, some of which may be more successful than others. More generally, we argue that our approach provides a useful entry point for future research on other fields in which both occupational and organizational status are key to the process of career building.

Recording & Additional Notes

Reading List

Burris, Val. 2004. “The Academic Caste System: Prestige Hierarchies in PhD Exchange Networks.” American Sociological Review 69(2):239–64.
Faulkner, Robert R. 1973. “Career Concerns and Mobility Motivations of Orchestra Musicians.” Sociological Quarterly 14(3):334–349.
Giuffre, Katherine. 1999. “Sandpiles of Opportunity: Success in the Art World.” Social Forces 77(3):815–32.