The Dissolution of Categories: Process, Organizational Behavior and Consequences



Prior work on change in categories has related the degree to which the category is institutionalized to category influence, showing that category effects - both sanctioning and benefits - are less pronounced in periods of category formation or reconstitution. Considering the case of the category demise it is arguably a substantively different event than category formation or reconstitution. To the extent that categories structure and stabilize market interactions the demise would mean a transit from a more to a less organized state with potentially critical organizational outcomes - which leads to the question of how this influences organizations and the markets which they mediate. Specifically, we ask three interrelated questions about category dissolution: How does it happen? What are the organizational responses? and, last but not least, what are the effects on a market where categories used to serve as a key commensuration mechanism? We address these questions through a longitudinal quantitative analysis of the demise of the ideology anchored party categorization in Britain over the period 1960 - 2005.
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Carolien Heintjes