Evaluating Ambiguous Offerings

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This paper studies how audience members categorize and evaluate ambiguous offerings. Depending on whether audience members categorize ambiguous offerings based on prototypes or goals, they activate two distinct cognitive mechanisms and evaluate differently ambiguous offerings. We expect that when audiences engage in goal-based vs. prototype-based categorization, their evaluation of ambiguous products increases. We theorize that under goal-based categorization, the perceived utility of unclear attributes increases for audiences, which leads them to evaluate more positively ambiguous product offerings. We test and find support for these direct and mediated relationships through a series of lab, on-line and field experiments. Overall, this study offers important implications for research on product and market categories, optimal distinctiveness, and market agents' cognitive ascription of value.
Bibliographic citation: BOULONGNE, R., DURAND, R. (2021). Evaluating Ambiguous Offerings. Organization Science. doi:

Reference: (DOI)
Date: 01/01/2021
Author(s): Romain Boulongne; Rodolphe Durand
Document type: Article in Journal (refereed)
Department: Strategic Management
Languages: English