Wed, 20. Sep. 2023   Rothe, Hannes

Entrepreneurial framing: How category dynamics shape the effectiveness of linguistic frames

We share insights from our recent article on the Power of Words in Social Impact Ventures Success (with Karl Täuscher) in the Strategic Management Journal (SMJ)...

???? Executive Summary:

#Entrepreneurs, does your venture focus on social impact or innovation?

The words you use to describe your startup can play a decisive role in its success or failure. We explored the linguistic strategies that ventures employ—specifically social impact framing vs. innovativeness framing—to see which approach wins customer attention under different market conditions.

???? Key Takeaways:

Social Impact Framing is more effective when your market category has high visibility or low competition.
Innovativeness Framing is your best bet in markets with low visibility or intense competition.

???? Background & ???? Methodology:

Words matter. They don't just describe reality; they enact it. However, little research has explored how market categories influence the effectiveness of these "linguistic frames." Our study aimed to understand how market category dynamics—namely, their salience (public attention) and crowdedness (competition level)—affect the efficacy of commonly used linguistic frames in startups.
We conducted a longitudinal study tracking entrepreneurial ventures in the Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) market category over its first ten years (2012-2021).
Our fixed-effects models revealed:
• Higher levels of Category Salience (i.e., attention) increase the effectiveness of social impact framing but decrease that of innovativeness framing.
• Higher levels of Category Crowdedness (i.e., competition) have the opposite effect: they decrease the effectiveness of social impact framing but increase that of innovativeness framing.

???? Action Points for Entrepreneurs

Assess Your Market: Evaluate the overall attention and competition level in your market.
Choose Your Words Wisely: Tailor your messaging to align with the characteristics of your market.
Be Adaptive: Market conditions change, and so should the words you use for your venture.

Link to the publication: