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New research has found that conforming to industry expectations can help organisations increase their visibility and recognition.

The study, carried out at HEC Paris Business School, explains how aligning with industry expectations can protect organizations from negative judgement. Likewise adopting a conventional approach can increase an organisation’s exposure and recognition.

Researchers analysed the concert programming decisions of 27 of the top 30 US symphony orchestras over a period of 90 years, using the status of the orchestra and the musical director to identify how an organisation becomes more successful by conforming.

Professor Pierre-Antoine Kremp and Rodolphe Durand found that there are two methods of conforming – alignment and conventinality - that organisations can use to distinguish themselves from competitors.

Orchestras that choose to align themselves with market expectations blend into the industry, avoiding unfavourable reviews and building on their authority in the process.

However other orchestras may strive for conventional repertoires, consistently choosing the same few well-regarded musical pieces to excel at.

The outcome of either tactic, according to the research, will be an organisation that stands out for its ability to conform.

Durand explains, “Audiences usually blame an orchestra for its flops while attributing its successes to the conductor. Consequently musical directors tend to link their name to recognised composers in an attempt to attract public acclaim.”

Kremp adds, “Organizations conform to pressures by aligning themselves with their competitors and end up blending into the crowd. On the other hand individual leaders respond to the same pressures by demonstrating their commitment to conventionality, making themselves stand out by displaying their capabilities in the process. It is possible that the behaviour of corporate executives has something in common with that of conductors, who succeed in complying with the norms of their industry while underscoring their individual uniqueness.”

The research also found that highly reputable orchestras and musical directors are an exception with the freedom to be unconventional due to their acceptance in the industry. Those new to the industry have equal amounts of freedom due to there being little at stake should they receive negative criticism.


For more information regarding Pierre-Antoine Kremp and Rodolphe Durand’s research or to arrange an interview, contact:
Rochelle Gayle at: or call +44(0)1582 790 711

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