Ambiguous classification: antecedents and outcomes.

Activity: Talk or presentation typesConference presentation


A number of recent studies have explicitly or implicitly drawn upon cases of ambiguous classification in order to explain processes of change that impact the trajectory of institutional fields and collective identities and meanings. Yet, until not long ago ambiguous classification evoked a clearly negative connotation, as the failure to belong to a category with concrete boundaries and membership criteria was deemed detrimental for the prosperity of members associated with it. Furthermore, even as ambiguous classification is gradually being recognized by organizational scholars as a necessary step towards novelty, its role is assumed to subdue over time as it gives way to dominant categories with clear boundaries. Moving beyond conceptualizations that focus exclusively on the transient role of ambiguous classification in category emergence or on its negative outcomes, I develop a comprehensive framework that accounts for both benefits and costs of ambiguous classification at different levels of analysis, while explicating the conditions that enable its emergence and persistence over time.
PeriodJun 2016 → …
Event titleStanford PACS Junior Scholars Forum
Event typeWorkshop
LocationBerlin, Germany


  • ambiguous classification, ambiguous categories, ambiguity, organizational categories, institutional change, theory
  • ambiguous categories
  • ambiguity
  • organisational categories
  • institutional change
  • theory