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The effects of category spanning depend on contrast.

Kovacs, B. and Hannan, M.T. (2010) 'The effects of category spanning depend on contrast.', Research in the sociology of organizations., 31 . pp. 175-201.


Recent research finds that producers assigned to multiple categories receive less attention and legitimacy and have lower chances of success and survival. We argue that the effect of category spanning on the reception from the audience depends on the fuzziness of the categories. When a set of categories lacks contrast (have very fuzzy boundaries), spanning them does not cause much additional confusion for the audience, thus the penalties associated with spanning ought to be slight. But, when the contrasts of the categories spanned are high, audience members will have difficulty interpreting the producer, so spanning categories will be devalued more. We study these processes using data from an online-review web site. Results show that audience members devalue organizations that span high-contrast categories more than those that span low-contrast categories. These effects are weaker for more active reviewers.

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Record Created:18 Feb 2011 15:35
Last Modified:27 Oct 2011 11:42

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