Markets and Intermediation: The Case of Horse Racing Economy

Sunday, June 26, 2016: 10:45 AM-12:15 PM
234 Dwinelle (Dwinelle Hall)
Carole Botton, École Supérieure de Commerce de Pau, Pau, France
This research examines the process by which a traditional economic activity is becoming a model of free competitive market. The economic sector described in this paper is the horse racing activity, whose organisation lies in codes and practices specific to a professional and social community (Smith, 1989 ; Wenger, 1998). However the last three decades have been a turning-point because of the conjunction of several factors. The authors use a qualitative methodology to observe how environnemental changes generate professional opportunities for a community. They present two examples and discuss the non-regulated evolution.

The paper firstly deals with the shaping of an auction market (for horses) in place of traditional face-to-face interactions and also the replacement of an opaque system of pricing by a transparent model disclosing official valuations (Garcia, 1986). The paper examines the consequences: development of intermediary professions such as horse’s brokers; elaboration of a commensuration process to classify and categorize horses’ skills and justify financial assessments. This research studies the discourse of rational justification used by brokers to appear as valuation experts (Callon & Muniesa, 2005; Carruthers & Espeland, 1991) and legitimate their expertise.

The paper secondly deals with the shaping of a market trading human competences. By referring to one governmental decision (the French monopolistic market of gaming opened to competition), the authors describe its economic (multiplication of racing events) and social (new community’s practices) consequences. The research illustrates this with the case of jockeys, whose profession has been completed redefined. While they were previously a central element of the sportive chain, working in confidence with horses trainers, jockeys are now considered as service providers. Their sportive skills are mandated by managers(1), who endorse the relational role as intermediaries between offer (jockeys) and demand (trainers).

The subject of this paper is the transformation of one traditional community into a global market trading products (horses) and skills (mens). The authors insist on the fact that the environmental context has been generating opportunities. Intermediation is one of the way used to seize free areas of this traditional economy (Allen, 1990). The papers reveals the lack of regulation surrounding intermediary professions (no diploma, no training, no control) and the difficulties faced by traditional actors to deal with these new market rules.

(1) The manager earns a fixed percentage of the jockey’s earnings he supervises. This percentage depends on the notoriety of the manager.