Category Spanning, Distance, and Appeal

Stanford Graduate School of Business Research Paper No. 2081R

35 Pages Posted: 11 Aug 2011 Last revised: 14 Dec 2011

See all articles by Michael Hannan

Michael Hannan

Stanford Graduate School of Business

Balázs Kovács

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Date Written: November 1, 2011

Abstract

A general finding in economic and organizational sociology states that producers and products that span categories lose appeal to audiences. This paper argues that the negative consequences of crossing category boundaries are more severe when the categories spanned are distant and have high contrast. Available empirical strategies do not incorporate information on distances among categories. Here we introduce novel measures to categorical distance and derive measures for grade-of-membership, category contrast and categorical niche width. Using the proposed measurement approach, we test our theory using data on online restaurant reviews in Los Angeles and San Francisco, and we find that the results confirm our predictions.

Suggested Citation

Hannan, Michael and Kovács, Balázs, Category Spanning, Distance, and Appeal (November 1, 2011). Stanford Graduate School of Business Research Paper No. 2081R, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1907921

Michael Hannan (Contact Author)

Stanford Graduate School of Business ( email )

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Balázs Kovács

affiliation not provided to SSRN

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