The “categorization as a theoretical tool” framework is delineated to clarify how innovation is possible even though candidates for exchange face a “categorical imperative” – pressure from their audience to adopt the conventional practices associated with existing categories. The key insight is that categorization is generally a useful tool for sorting and screening exchange opportunities. This insight is developed to suggest how the nature of the imperative varies with the audience’s objectives and the theory of value it espouses and how the strength of the imperative varies with the social challenges and opportunities for engaging in, and learning from, experiments with unconventionality.
I would like to thank the editors of this volume (and the AOM symposium that preceded it), Rodolphe Durand, Nina Granqvist, and Anna Tyllström, for inviting me to participate and for their stewardship of this article. I am especially in debt to Rudy, as there is no doubt in my mind that this article would be less coherent were it not for his patience, generosity, and wisdom. I would also like to thank J.-P. Vergne and Klaus Weber for their comments. Finally, this article is greatly in debt to my coauthors on various papers cited here, especially Damon Phillips and Catherine Turco. As always, I alone am responsible for any errors or infelicities.
Zuckerman, E.W. (2017), "The Categorical Imperative Revisited: Implications of Categorization as a Theoretical Tool", From Categories to Categorization: Studies in Sociology, Organizations and Strategy at the Crossroads (Research in the Sociology of Organizations, Vol. 51), Emerald Publishing Limited, pp. 31-68. https://doi.org/10.1108/S0733-558X20170000051001Download as .RIS
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