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"Out of the frying pan and into the mixing bowl: Category grading and the adoption of novel practices"

Peter Cebon and E. Geoffrey Love


First Author :

Peter Cebon
Melbourne Business School, University of Melbourne
200 Leicester Street
Carlton VIC 3053

61-3-9349-8414 (Fax)

Second Author :

E. Geoffrey Love
Business Administration
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, College of Business
1206 S. Sixth Street, MC 706
Champaign, IL 61820


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Abstract :
Given that recent research has found that the meanings managers attribute to novel practices are crucial to understanding their adoption, we ask how institutional processes shape the way managers understand novel practices, and how that understanding affects adoption behaviour. In particular, we focus on how managers choose between component practices within a management practice (i.e. between members within a category). We argue, consistent with research in linguistics and anthropology, that categories are graded that some members represent the category better than others. We go further to argue that the grading affects the value that participants attribute to category members. We build a model of the way processes of theorization and inter-organisational monitoring will grade categories in a field, and argue that, at any point in time, later adopters are more likely to have adopted central members of the category than earlier adopters. We test the resultant propositions by examining the adoption of Manufacturing Best Practice programs in Australia and New Zealand. Our data support our arguments regarding theorization, but not inter-organisational monitoring.
Manuscript Received : 2006
Manuscript Published : 2006
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