Contextualizing the Categorical Imperative: Category Linkages, Technology Focus, and Resource Acquisition in Nanotechnology Entrepreneurship

17 Pages Posted: 30 Mar 2013

See all articles by Tyler Wry

Tyler Wry

University of Pennsylvania - The Wharton School, Management Department

Michael Lounsbury

University of Alberta - Department of Strategic Management and Organization

Date Written: April 28, 2012

Abstract

This paper examines the role of category affiliations in entrepreneurial resource acquisition. Pace existing studies, we suggest category spanning will cause firms to be overlooked or discounted because evaluators assume that they have less expertise than their category-focused competitors; a phenomenon known as the ‘categorical imperative.’ We suggest, however, that categories can be related both vertically and horizontally, and that this has important implications for understanding how the actors that span between them are evaluated. Studying startup ventures in nanotube technology, we show that venture capital investments were affected by a firm's position across patent classes that were related at both of these levels of analysis and that the interaction between them had implications for which firms received the largest investments.

Keywords: categories, focus, venture capital, entrepreneurship, nanotechnology

Suggested Citation

Wry, Tyler and Lounsbury, Michael, Contextualizing the Categorical Imperative: Category Linkages, Technology Focus, and Resource Acquisition in Nanotechnology Entrepreneurship (April 28, 2012). Journal of Business Venturing, Vol. 28, No. 1, 2013 ; University of Alberta School of Business Research Paper Forthcoming. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2241159

Tyler Wry (Contact Author)

University of Pennsylvania - The Wharton School, Management Department ( email )

The Wharton School
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6370
United States

Michael Lounsbury

University of Alberta - Department of Strategic Management and Organization ( email )

Edmonton, Alberta T6G 2R6
Canada

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