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2019 HEC Foundation - Doctoral Thesis Award

Congratulations to Romain Boulongne who received this Wednesday the prestigious HEC Foundation Doctoral Thesis Award for his original approach of ambiguity within organizations. 

Romain holds a PhD in Management, Strategy and Business Policy, from HEC Paris. During his time at HEC, Romain also spent one year as a Visiting Doctoral Student in the Economic Sociology Group at MIT Sloan. His primary research focus is on how categorization processes—the various cognitive mechanisms that people use to make sense of the social world — shape social evaluation and performance of organizations in markets.
Another aspect of Romain’s research draws on his broader interest in questions related to sustainability, where, to address them, he uses experimental methods and large-scale empirical approaches to explore topics such as the performance evaluations of social enterprises or impact investing. 

Today Romain is Assistant Professor at IESE Business School. 

Subject: When is ambiguity favorable? An experimental and theoretical investigation of multiple categorization processes in markets.

Supervisor: Rodolphe Durand, Professor of Strategy and Business Policy, HEC Paris

Abstract: This dissertation studies the different categorization processes (prototype-based, goal-based and analogical-based categorization) and subsequent cognitive mechanisms (central tendency, conceptual combination and analogical processing, respectively) that audiences use in markets when they evaluate an ambiguous entity. This dissertation put the results from past research in perspective and studies how different categorization processes and cognitive mechanisms influence (i) the evaluation of ambiguous product offerings, (ii) the performance evaluation of organizations with an ambiguous market positioning, and (iii) firms’ differentiation strategies. More broadly, this work offers contributions to the literature in both organization theory and strategy. 


romain boulongne