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


  • Durand , Rodolphe


  • Paolella , Lionel



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.

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  • Durand , Rodolphe & Paolella , Lionel, 2013. "Category Stretching: Reorienting Research on Categories in Strategy, Entrepreneurship, and Organization Theory," Les Cahiers de Recherche 996, HEC Paris.
  • Handle: RePEc:ebg:heccah:0996

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. repec:bla:stratm:v:38:y:2017:i:1:p:64-92 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Michael Lounsbury & Christine M. Beckman, 2015. "Celebrating Organization Theory," Journal of Management Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 52(2), pages 288-308, March.
    3. repec:bla:stratm:v:38:y:2017:i:7:p:1435-1454 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Durand, Rodolphe & Hadida, Allègre L., 2016. "Logic combination and performance across occupational communities: The case of French film directors," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 69(7), pages 2371-2379.
    5. J.-P. Vergne & Tyler Wry, 2014. "Categorizing Categorization Research: Review, Integration, and Future Directions," Journal of Management Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 51(1), pages 56-94, January.
    6. Guilhem Bascle, 2016. "Toward a Dynamic Theory of Intermediate Conformity," Journal of Management Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 53(2), pages 131-160, March.
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    8. Thomas Roulet, 2015. "“What Good is Wall Street?” Institutional Contradiction and the Diffusion of the Stigma over the Finance Industry," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 130(2), pages 389-402, August.
    9. Jia, Ming & Zhang, Zhe, 2016. "What influences the duration of negative impacts from organizational deviance on other innocent firms?," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 69(7), pages 2517-2530.
    10. Mary Ann Glynn & Chad Navis, 2013. "Categories, Identities, and Cultural Classification: Moving Beyond a Model of Categorical Constraint," Journal of Management Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 50(6), pages 1124-1137, September.
    11. Rodolphe Durand & Jean-Philippe Vergne, 2015. "Asset divestment as a response to media attacks in stigmatized industries," Strategic Management Journal, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 36(8), pages 1205-1223, August.
    12. repec:bla:stratm:v:38:y:2017:i:1:p:93-113 is not listed on IDEAS
    13. Patrick Haack & Michael D. Pfarrer & Andreas Georg Scherer, 2014. "Legitimacy-as-Feeling: How Affect Leads to Vertical Legitimacy Spillovers in Transnational Governance," Journal of Management Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 51(4), pages 634-666, June.
    14. Konstantinos Pitsakis & Vangelis Souitaris & Nicos Nicolaou, 2015. "The Peripheral Halo Effect: Do Academic Spinoffs Influence Universities' Research Income?," Journal of Management Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 52(3), pages 321-353, May.
    15. Jia, Ming & Zhang, Zhe, 2016. "How long does the influence of organizational deviance have on innocent firms?," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 69(8), pages 2649-2663.
    16. Nina Granqvist & Tiina Ritvala, 2016. "Beyond Prototypes: Drivers of Market Categorization in Functional Foods and Nanotechnology," Journal of Management Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 53(2), pages 210-237, March.
    17. The Editors, 2013. "Opening up New Vistas in Categorization Research," Journal of Management Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 50(6), pages 1097-1099, September.
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    19. Mark Thomas Kennedy & Peer C. Fiss, 2013. "An Ontological Turn in Categories Research: From Standards of Legitimacy to Evidence of Actuality," Journal of Management Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 50(6), pages 1138-1154, September.

    More about this item


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

    JEL classification:

    • M00 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - General - - - General

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