European Business Schools Librarian's Group

Les Cahiers de Recherche,
HEC Paris

No 996: Category Stretching: Reorienting Research on Categories in Strategy, Entrepreneurship, and Organization Theory

Rodolphe Durand () and Lionel Paolella ()

Abstract: We advocate for more tolerance in the manner we collectively address categories and categorization in our research. Drawing on the prototype view, organizational scholars have provided a ‘disciplining’ framework to explain how category membership shapes, impacts and limits organizational success. By stretching the existing straightjacket of scholarship on categories, we point to other useful conceptualizations of categories – i.e. the causal model and the goal-based approaches of categorization – and propose that depending on situational circumstances, and beyond a disciplining exercise, categories involve a cognitive test of congruence and a goal satisfying calculus. Unsettling the current consensus about categorical imperatives and market discipline, we suggest also that markets may tolerate more often than thought organizations that blend, span, and stretch categories. We derive implications for research about multi-category membership and mediation in markets, and suggest ways in which work on the theme of categories in the strategy, entrepreneurship, and managerial cognition literatures can be enriched.

Keywords: categories; prototype; causal model; goal-based model

JEL-codes: M00

30 pages, November 4, 2013

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