Distilling Authenticity: Materiality and Narratives in Canadian Distilleries' Authenticity Work

Maxim Voronov, William M. Foster, Gerardo Patriotta, Klaus Weber

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Authenticity is increasingly seen as a source of competitive advantage in many industries. Accordingly, authenticity work, the organizational efforts to develop and sustain believable authenticity claims, has emerged as an important organizational practice. We examined the interplay of materiality and narratives underpinning producers’
authenticity work in the context of incumbent and micro-distilleries
operating in the Canadian whisky industry. We found that producers’
material endowments, especially central product features, anchored what authenticity claims they could credibly narrate. Other material
endowments, such as key people and architectural design, were used to reinforce the integrity of authenticity claims. Our study extends our understanding of authenticity as a valued organizational resource. First,
we identify two mechanisms, anchoring and reinforcement, through which materiality both constrains and facilitates organizations’ authenticity narratives. Second, our research brings to the fore how audience members’ experiential closeness to producers colors their
perceptions of authenticity, and we show how material artifacts can
enhance such closeness. Third, our findings enrich the understanding of competitive value of authenticity in the context of strategy by unpacking how producers’ material endowments may constitute a resource or a liability.
Original languageEnglish
JournalAcademy of Management Journal
Issue number5
Early online date17 Oct 2023
Publication statusPublished - 31 Oct 2023


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