How and why firms are being referenced in scientific publications
Studies of signaling theory have traditionally focused on the dyadic link between the sender and receiver of the signal. Within a science‐based perspective this framing has led scholars to investigate how patents and publications of firms function as signals. I explore another important type of signal of firms, which is based on a formalized common practice of external, academic experts referring to firms in their peer reviewed publications. The findings provide qualitative evidence that helps explain why and how this new type of ‘second‐hand’ signal is created, validated and systematically used by various agents in their search for and assessment of products and firms. I conclude by arguing how this second‐hand nature of signals goes beyond a simple dyadic focus on senders and receivers of signals, and thus elucidates the more complex interrelations of the various types of agents involved in signaling phenomena.
European Management Review, 2014, Vol 11, Issue 2, p. 159-171