The Role of Celebrity and Status in the Performance–Pay Relationship: Evidence from the ‘Big Five’ European Football Leagues

  • Antonio Giangreco IESEG School of Management, Paris and Lille, France; and LEM-CNRS UMR 9221, Lille, France
  • Barbara Slavich IESEG School of Management, Paris and Lille, France; and LEM-CNRS UMR 9221, Lille, France
  • Alessandro Piazza Jesse H. Jones School of Business, Rice University, Houston, USA
  • Fabrizio Castellucci Department of Management and Technology, Bocconi University, Milan, Italy
  • Cyrus Mohadjer IESEG School of Management, Paris and Lille, France
Keywords: Performance, Pay, Status, Celebrity, ‘Big Five’ European football leagues


This study explores the reasons behind the existence of frequent mismatches between performance of individuals in organisations and their salary, with a specific focus on contexts where actors or employees are highly visible and representative of organisations. We argue that two intangible assets – celebrity and status – might affect the intensity of the link between individual performance and pay levels. Using a panel data set of professional footballers from the top five European leagues, we find that there is a positive association between players’ performance in one period (season) and their salary in the subsequent season, and that this relationship is negatively moderated by both the players’ celebrity and status. Theoretical contributions and managerial implications are discussed, along with the generalisability of the results to other settings.


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Author Biographies

Antonio Giangreco, IESEG School of Management, Paris and Lille, France; and LEM-CNRS UMR 9221, Lille, France

Antonio Giangreco is Professor of HRM & OB and Associate Dean for International Relations at IESEG School of Management (LEM-CNRS UMR 9221), Lille (France). He received his PhD from The London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). His main research interests are in the area of compensation schemes, performance assessment, employee wellbeing and IT driven change.

Barbara Slavich, IESEG School of Management, Paris and Lille, France; and LEM-CNRS UMR 9221, Lille, France

Barbara Slavich is Professor of Organization at IESEG School of Management (LEM-CNRS UMR 9221), Paris (France). She holds a double PhD degree in Management from ESADE Business School (Barcelona, Spain) and Università Ca’ Foscari (Venice, Italy). She was visiting scholar at Columbia University (New York) and at Duke University (North Carolina). Her research focuses on organizing and leading for creativity and innovation, with emphasis on creative industries, as well as on the emergence and dynamics of new categories and styles.

Alessandro Piazza, Jesse H. Jones School of Business, Rice University, Houston, USA

Alessandro Piazza is an Assistant Professor of Strategic Management at the Jesse H. Jones School of Business, Rice University. He received his PhD from the Graduate School of Business at Columbia University, and he also holds a doctorate in business administration and management from Bocconi University. His research interests include social evaluations of organizations, activism and contention, as well as social structural approaches to entrepreneurship.

Fabrizio Castellucci, Department of Management and Technology, Bocconi University, Milan, Italy

Fabrizio Castellucci is Associate Professor of Organization Theory at the Department of Management and Technology at Bocconi University, Professor of Leadership at SDA Bocconi School of Management, and a Fellow of the Invernizzi Center for Research in Innovation, Organization, and Strategy (ICRIOS) at Bocconi University. He received his PhD from the Graduate School of Business at Stanford University. His research focuses on status, reputation, social networks and organizational learning.

Cyrus Mohadjer, IESEG School of Management, Paris and Lille, France

Cyrus Mohadjer has recently received a Master of Science in Management from IESEG School of Management (Lille). He currently works in the financial sector.


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How to Cite
Giangreco, A., Slavich, B., Piazza, A., Castellucci, F., & Mohadjer, C. (2021). The Role of Celebrity and Status in the Performance–Pay Relationship: Evidence from the ‘Big Five’ European Football Leagues. M@n@gement, 24(1), 1-16.
Original Research Articles