Measuring up? Persistence and change in analysts' evaluative schemas following technological change

Mary J. Benner, Ram Ranganathan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


We examine shifts in how analysts assess the strategies of incumbent firms following a radical technological change. Specifically, we use an inductive study of earnings conference call transcripts and analyst reports to study how analysts' evaluative schemas change with technological change in the wireline telecommunications industry. We find three temporal themes.At first, analysts pressure firms to reverse strategic changes that are at odds with the existing "income"-focused metrics and logic that constitute the evaluative schema. Next, schema change unfolds with the ongoing technological change, as firm performance declines when measured with traditional metrics, and as managers frame strategic changes using new "growth"-focused metrics and logic. Finally, a distinct shift in the schema is apparent as analysts' increasing attention to growth spurs a more positive view of strategic changes that they previously opposed, a less positive view of previously supported strategies that conformed to an income logic, and the application of the growth logic even to a firm not pursuing growth-oriented strategic changes. Results from a supplementary content analysis support these results, showing a temporal shift toward "growth" words in analyst reports and conference calls. Our process model emphasizes the gradual shifts in analysts' evaluative schemas that ultimately support firm responses to a new technology. We highlight the importance of managerial framing as firms facing technological change pursue strategic responses that initially diverge from stakeholders' expectations, as well as the possibility that as schemas shift, actions that initially conform to analysts' expectations may be questioned.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)760-780
Number of pages21
JournalOrganization Science
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 1 2017


  • Behavioral strategy
  • Categories
  • Cognition
  • Evaluative schemas
  • Institutional change
  • Institutional entrepreneurship
  • Securities analysts
  • Technological change


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