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PhD Program

PhD Thesis Defence, Strategy and Business Policy

Congratulations to Dr Romain Boulongne who successfully defended his thesis on June 28, 2019. Romain will join  IESE Business School (Spain) as Assistant Professor.

Thesis Topic: When is ambiguity favorable? An experimental and theoretical investigation of multiple categorization process in markets.

Supervisor: Professor Rodolphe Durand, HEC Paris
This dissertation studies the different categorization processes (prototype-based, goalbased 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. Past research has shown that audiences discount product ambiguity because they are confused about what an ambiguous product offering does (cognitive ambiguity). Similarly, research has shown that audiences discount organizational ambiguity because they don’t know what these organizations with an ambiguous market positioning are (identity ambiguity) and how well they multi-task (competence ambiguity). This dissertation puts these results 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. In the former, this work falls within the economic sociology, categorization processes and hybrid organizations topics. In the latter, my contributions are relevant to the topics of optimal distinctiveness, market agents’ cognitive ascription of value, and firms’ differentiation strategies.