Anchors in Rough Seas: The Impact of Exemplar Products on Category Stability
I discuss how exemplar products that span institutionalized categories contribute to maintain these categories as a stable basis for coordination between producers and audience members. First, spanning exemplars drive emulation among producers, thereby increasing their chance to replicate the same combination of categories observed in the exemplars. Second, spanning exemplars stimulate audience members’ consensus about the market value of the other products in those categories. Third, the recurrent patterns of recombinant activities in which producers engage when emulating exemplars are key to channel the understanding of audience members and to improve their agreement. I test these arguments in the market for the electronic music (1978-2013) and find support for my hypotheses.