The paper proposes a systemic theory of rivalry that addresses a key limitation of past research by articulating how rivalry spreads across levels of analysis and between social domains. Shifting the perspective from what rivalry does to what it prevents from doing, we conceptualize rivalry as a system of relational constraints that extends beyond the level of direct rivals. Using qualitative and quantitative data on the mobility of jockeys in the Palio di Siena (1743-2011), the famous horse race in Siena, Italy, we document relational gaps in the mobility network – career moves that do not occur, even if expected on economic grounds. The analysis shows that rivalry constrains not only the moves to rivals but also to allies of rivals and rivals of allies. The effect becomes stronger over time, attesting that relational constraints persist in developed markets. Our fieldwork reveals that the constraining ability of rivalry is based on conformity to expectations of loyalty and adherence to group identities. The observed relational gaps are pertinent not only to scholarship on rivalry but also to mobility and network research.
SGOUREV, S. et OPERTI, E. (2019). From Montagues To Capulets? Analyzing the Systemic Nature of Rivalry in Career Mobility. Academy of Management Journal, 62(5), pp. 1333-1357.