Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

How the deal goes down: The role of trust, reciprocity, and reputation in managing the uncertainty of the movie deal-making process
by Yudelson, John Alan, Ph.D., University of California, Santa Barbara, 2009, 419; 3379533
Abstract (Summary)

Deals are the culmination of increasingly formal communication between at least two parties that obligate the parties to act in good faith toward each other, resulting in what is hoped will be mutual gain. Deals are usually characterized by uncertainty in terms of their success. One arena in which deals are subjected to high amounts of uncertainty is the movie business.

In order to discover how trust, reciprocity, and reputation assist dealmakers in managing their uncertainty, eighteen people from the movie business who had experience in deals that were both successful and unsuccessful were interviewed. The interviewees were people who had from 10 to 30 years of experience each as agents, entertainment attorneys, managers, studio executives, producers, and writers. Some had experience in multiple roles. All had been involved with at least one feature film deal (that is, a deal that had gone through the American studio system), and some had been involved with many.

More than 25 hours of interviews were audiotaped, which resulted in close to 400 pages of transcripts. The qualitative data that resulted from these interviews were broken down into themes, and these themes were further broken down into sub-themes. The initial themes were deal-making, trust, reciprocity, reputation, and uncertainty. According to the qualitative data, all of these themes were seen as being very important to dealmakers in the movie business. In addition to these themes, other themes – relationships, the importance of talent, and timing/a sense of urgency – emerged from the data as being very important to the dealmakers.

In addition to the qualitative data, quantitative data were generated using centering resonance analysis (CRA), which looks at the influence of words and word pairs in an individual’s semantic network using the concept of betweenness centrality. The results of the CRA illustrated that the influence of the roles were very important to the dealmakers, especially the producer role, and that the influence of the project or movie also was very important to the interviewees.

This study reveals how various constructs impact how individuals manage their uncertainty when doing deals. It extends Kramer’s (2004) theory of managing uncertainty by illustrating how the same individuals might use different strategies to reduce, maintain, or even increase uncertainty, depending on their needs during the deal-making process.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Lammers, John C., Seibold, David R.
Commitee: Bielby, Denise D., Giles, Howard
School: University of California, Santa Barbara
Department: Communication
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-A 70/11, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Communication
Keywords: Deal-making, Movie business, Organizational behavior, Organizational communication
Publication Number: 3379533
ISBN: 978-1-109-48381-9
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