Damon Phillips

Why Pseudonyms? Deception as Identity Preservation Among Jazz Record Companies, 1920–1929

Coauthor(s): Young-Kyu Kim.


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This paper theoretically and empirically engages the relationship between organizational identity and deception using the market for early jazz recordings as a setting. In this setting, pseudonyms (where a recording is reissued under a fictitious name) were used deceptively as a way to preserve a firm's identity while selling profitable but identity-threatening products to the mass market. Firms founded in the Victorian Era actively sought alignment with the cultural elite and used pseudonyms to deceive observers into believing that their production of cultural products was consistent with their Victorian Era identity. In effect, pseudonyms allowed these firms to decouple their position in identity space from their position in product space by inflating production of identity-preserving products. Using product data from jazz discographies, record company directories, and record advertisements in major U.S. newspapers, we provide strong empirical evidence that Victorian Era firms were active in using pseudonyms to preserve their identities.

Source: Organization Science
Exact Citation:
Phillips, Damon, and Young-Kyu Kim. "Why Pseudonyms? Deception as Identity Preservation Among Jazz Record Companies, 1920–1929." Organization Science 20, no. 3 (2009): 481–499.
Volume: 20
Number: 3
Pages: 481-499
Date: 2009