Purpose: This study contributes to the sociology of financial analysts by exploring sell-side analysts’ presentation of self and the public dramatizations of their professional roles. The study addresses the following research question: How do analysts perform their professional roles in interactions with managers, fund managers and other analysts?
Design/methodology/approach: The study adopts a dramaturgical analysis to analysts’ interactions with managers and fund managers. The empirical material includes 50 hours of direct observations of earnings presentations and 21 interviews with analysts, managers and other relevant actors.
Findings: The findings show that analysts struggle with role conflicts because they need to satisfy the contrasting demands of managers, fund managers and colleagues. Performing the role as expert critic is foremost dependant on managers’ approval yet analysts find themselves in situations where they must threaten managers’ appearances. The resulting role performance is therefore underbuilt by displays of role distance and careful preparation to meet the expectations of their audiences. In order to maintain their roles as expert critic, the analysts are dependent on both those taking their advice (fund managers) and those being reviewed (managers).
Originality/value: This study is one of few empirically rich investigations of analyst activities, analyst-manager interactions and meetings with distinct audiences. It also contributes to previous interview studies using dramaturgical analysis by offering in-depth observations of a single, distinct situated-activity system.
Sell-side analysts, face-to-face interactions, dramaturgy, role performance, role conflict, role distance