Category Stretching: Reorienting Research on Categories in Strategy, Entrepreneurship, and Organization Theory

Journal of Management Studies, Vol. 50, Issue 6, pp. 1100-1123, 2013

HEC Paris Research Paper No. SPE-2013-996

24 Pages Posted: 5 Jan 2012 Last revised: 15 Aug 2014

See all articles by Rodolphe Durand

Rodolphe Durand

HEC Paris - Strategy & Business Policy

Lionel Paolella

University of Cambridge- Judge Business School

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: September 1, 2013

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 Classification: M00

Suggested Citation

Durand, Rodolphe and Paolella, Lionel, Category Stretching: Reorienting Research on Categories in Strategy, Entrepreneurship, and Organization Theory (September 1, 2013). Journal of Management Studies, Vol. 50, Issue 6, pp. 1100-1123, 2013 ; HEC Paris Research Paper No. SPE-2013-996. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1978917 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1978917

Rodolphe Durand (Contact Author)

HEC Paris - Strategy & Business Policy ( email )

Jouy-en-Josas Cedex, 78351
France

Lionel Paolella

University of Cambridge- Judge Business School ( email )

Trumpington Street
Cambridge, CB2 1AG
United Kingdom

HOME PAGE: http://www.jbs.cam.ac.uk/faculty-research/faculty-a-z/lionel-paolella/

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