Empty categories and industry emergence: The rise and fall of Japanese Ji-Biru

Jesper Edman, Christina L. Ahmadjian

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


We examine the construction of "empty categories" - that is, categories created prior to the existence of producers and consumers - and their implications for industry emergence. Drawing on the case of the ji-biru category among Japanese microbreweries, we exemplify how external actors - including governments, the media, consultants, and other entities - frequently create empty categories that are "legitimate yet not legitimated" (Vergne & Wry, 2014). We show how such empty categories generate lower entry barriers, resulting in higher founding rates and significant innovation. We highlight how empty categories impede evolutionary forces by inhibiting shared understandings of what constitutes a legitimate category member.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)109-140
Number of pages32
JournalResearch in the Sociology of Organizations
Publication statusPublished - 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Categories
  • Industry emergence
  • Japan
  • Microbrewery

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management


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