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PhD Thesis Defense, Arnaud Cudennec, Strategy and Business Policy

A. Cudennec, HEC Paris PhD 2020

Congratulations to Dr Arnaud Cudennec, Strategy and Business Policy, who successfully defended his Doctoral thesis at HEC Paris, on June 23, 2020. Arnaud will join the Hong Kong Polytechnic University ("PolyU") as assistant professor.  

Thesis Topic: Market categories, expertise, and evaluation of organizations

Supervisor(s):  Rodolphe Durand, Professor of Strategy and Business Policy

Jury Members: 
Giada Di Stefano, Associate Professor, University of Bocconi 
Rodolphe Durand, Professor,  HEC Paris, Supervisor
Elisa Operti, Associate Professor, ESSEC
Mauricio Zollo, Professor,  Imperial College

Abstract: This dissertation examines how categories — groupings that are built upon social and cognitive similarities — affect the evaluation of organizations in markets. Research shows that market audiences are likely to penalize organizations that combine multiple categories. Questioning the past studies' underlying assumptions, my work contextualizes this demand of categorical purity by studying the role of (i) category nesting, that is the hierarchical disposition of categories, (ii) audience members’ heterogeneity in expertise and modes of categorization (the way individuals group entities together), and (iii) the differences of valence among categories themselves. Using experimental tests (Chapter 1), longitudinal data on venture capital deals worldwide from 1994 to 2017 (Chapter 2) as well as theoretical developments (Chapter 3), this dissertation provides evidence of conditions under which categorically atypical organizations are better appraised than categorically pure organizations in markets. This work offers contribution to organization theory and economic sociology by speaking to research on market categories, experts’ evaluations and optimal distinctiveness.