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Playing with fire : Category-level strategies for dealing with public disapproval. The case of the global arms industry (1996-2007)

Abstract : Using qualitative and quantitative data, this dissertation investigates the anticipation and response strategies used by firms to deal with public disapproval and stigmatization. External audiences rely on organizational categories to make sense of the industry landscape. Categories are combinations of linguistic, symbolic, and substantive features that shape how social evaluations, positive or negative, are conveyed. Thus, association to certain categories can increase or decrease disapproval levels, and so can category straddling. To decrease future disapproval levels, firms can manage strategically the categories with which audiences associate them. Specifically, in the global arms industry, the categories that matter most are located at the home country, customer, and output levels. However, anticipation strategies are not always enough. Firms can be targeted by corporate scandal, a very stigmatizing form of disapproval. The dissertation demonstrates that in such cases firms implement response strategies that also modify categorical associations at the industry level, with the aim of loosening the ties that connect the targeted firm to the scandal, and the scandal to the rest of the firm's partners in the industry. The dissertation contributes to strategy and organization theory, especially to research streams on industry evolution, categorization, and stigmatization
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Submitted on : Monday, July 11, 2011 - 11:11:41 AM
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Jean-Philippe Vergne. Playing with fire : Category-level strategies for dealing with public disapproval. The case of the global arms industry (1996-2007). Business administration. HEC PARIS, 2010. English. ⟨NNT : 2010EHEC0003⟩. ⟨pastel-00607769⟩

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