What's in a Name? Giving Form and Meaning to a New Culinary Category

Barbara Slavich, Silviya Svejenova, Maria Pilar Opazo, Gerardo Patriotta

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This study examines how a new category gains form and meaning in the presence of multiple logics, competing labels, and multiple modes of sensegiving and sensemaking. We analyze the work of four emblematic chefs associated with the emerging category of ‘molecular gastronomy’ from 1995 to 2015: Grant Achatz, Ferran Adrià, Heston Blumenthal, and Massimo Bottura. We show that category formation is a circular and iterative process, consisting of three sub-processes that take place recurrently until its stabilization: creation of innovative work, contestation emerging from the misinterpretation of innovators’ efforts, and consolidation of the meanings and practices associated with the new category. Our study reveals that a new category’s label that is in opposition with the intended meaning of the creators can nonetheless bring that category forward by triggering creators’ engagement in politics of meaning. We conclude by discussing the implications of our work and outlining future research directions.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the Seventy-sixth Annual Meeting of the Academy of Management
EditorsJohn Humphreys
Number of pages5
Place of PublicationBriar Cliff Manor, NY
PublisherAcademy of Management
Publication date2016
Article number15555
Publication statusPublished - 2016
EventThe Academy of Management Annual Meeting 2016: Making Organizations Meaningful - Anaheim, United States
Duration: 5 Aug 20169 Aug 2016
Conference number: 76


ConferenceThe Academy of Management Annual Meeting 2016
Country/TerritoryUnited States
Internet address
SeriesAcademy of Management Proceedings


  • Artifacts
  • Categorization
  • Labeling

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