Lost in a Universe of Markets: Toward a Theory of Market Scoping for Early-Stage Technologies

Molner, Sven; Prabhu, Jaideep C. and Yadav, Manjit S.. 2019. Lost in a Universe of Markets: Toward a Theory of Market Scoping for Early-Stage Technologies. Journal of Marketing, 83(2), pp. 37-61. ISSN 0022-2429 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

This paper examines market scoping for early stage technologies, a fundamental yet underexplored marketing activity. Market scoping refers to managerial activities directed at the identification of market spaces for early stage technologies. Our discovery-oriented research aimed at theory development draws on an extensive, multi-year database of email trails and archival records detailing market scoping efforts for early stage technologies emerging from a global research university. Based on this longitudinal database, we provide an in-depth examination of managers’ market space decisions and advance an initial theory of market scoping. We isolate managers’ market scoping mindset — which manifests as market ambiguity avoidance or acceptance — as a key explanatory construct shaping market space decisions and outcomes. Market ambiguity avoidance results in managers’ downstream orientation toward end-users; this mindset, counterintuitively, may lead to technology commercialization failure. In contrast, market ambiguity acceptance results in managers’ upstream orientation; this mindset directs attention away from end-users, but helps uncover indirect paths to viable market spaces. This paper lays the groundwork for advancing marketing research in the context of early stage technology commercialization.

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Additional Information:

The research was supported by a grant from the Swiss National Science Foundation.


Early stage technology, Innovation, New product development, Technology, Commercialization, Entrepreneurship, Market ambiguity, Market spaces

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Institute of Management Studies


22 October 2018Accepted
27 December 2018Published Online
1 March 2019Published

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Date Deposited:

21 Nov 2018 11:57

Last Modified:

24 Mar 2021 17:55

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.



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