Symbolic Value Creation: Constructing Technologica.. (Aesthetic Innovation)
Symbolic Value Creation: Constructing Technological and Aesthetic Evaluation Criteria in High-technology Markets
Start date: Oct 1, 2011,
End date: Sep 30, 2015
This project applies a socio-cognitive lens to examine how high-technology firms negotiate the criteria journalists use to evaluate their products and how the balance between appreciation for both technological and aesthetic product dimensions is created and maintained. In many high-technology markets, firms offer goods that are at the technological forefront and are also aesthetically appealing (e.g., iMacs and iPods). This focus on aesthetics is puzzling because in high-technology industries, firms and their goods are appreciated for their technological functionality and utility and the scientific and mechanic principles that underlie this functionality. When firms invest resources in product aesthetics, they expect their constituents (journalists, customers, suppliers, stakeholders, etc.) to appreciate these non-utilitarian product dimensions and the way they operate as meaningful symbols that can express users’ identities.To study the aesthetic focus, this inductive multi-case study uses both qualitative and quantitative content analysis approaches. I will collect press releases for Apple, Dell, Nokia, and Ericsson as well as product reviews for the entire personal computer and mobile phone industries from the past two decades. I will use these texts to compare the ways in which both firms and journalists describe their products and how they construct the criteria they apply to evaluate these products. I will also be able to examine how firms’ evaluations influence and/or are influenced by those of journalists. Analyses will include both a deep qualitative reading of the texts as well as an innovative computerized approach. Using a computer program, I will develop a coding scheme allowing me to analyze this vast amount of text with great reliability. Previous research, especially past experience with developing three computerized coding schemes, has helped me develop the theoretical and methodological skills required to successfully execute the project.
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