Restaurants, Ratings, & Reactivity: The Impact of a Judgment Device on the German Haute Cuisine

Fabian Heinrich Müller & Marie-Sophie Sagasser

Student thesis: Master thesis


The generally increasing importance attached to the German haute cuisine market in mind, the paper at hand investigates the overall impact of the market’s leading measure, the Michelin Guide on German haute cuisine restaurants. Based on a paper by Espeland and Sauder (2007), which describes the effect of measures on organizational actors by reactivity, we elaborate on the extent of applicability of this theoretical concept to the German haute cuisine. Our study first reveals examples of reactivity in line with Espeland and Sauder’s understanding of the concept. Second, we analyze forms of pseudo-reactivity. These are patterns of behavior that seem to be reactivity on the first glance, however the Michelin Guide does not function as cause but is rather employed as legitimization of the altered behavior by the observed restaurants. Thirdly, we examine patterns of behavior that are in no correlation to the Michelin Guide. In sum, our findings indicate a weaker extent of reactivity in the specific context of German haute cuisine in contrast to what the study by Espeland and Sauder suggests. We present potential explanations for these findings based on our theoretical approach as well as on the specific features of our empirical field of study. To conclude, this paper offers an alternative perspective on reactivity and underlines the importance of further research on measures and their consequences.

EducationsMSc in Strategy, Organization and Leadership, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2013
Number of pages127