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

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

Sven Molner, Jaideep C. Prabhu and Manjit S. Yadav

JM Insights in the Classroom

Teaching Insights

1) Demonstrating the marketing challenge; 2) developing the framework: describing the market-scoping mindset and market space decisions, demonstrating impact on market scoping outcomes; 3) managing the market-scoping mindset over time.

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Related Marketing Courses: ​
Innovation/New ​Product Development; Marketing Strategy;

Full Citation: ​
Molner, Sven, Jaideep C. Prabhu, and Manjit S. Yadav (2019), “Lost in a Universe of Markets: Toward a Theory of Market Scoping for Early-Stage Technologies”, Journal of Marketing, 83 (2), 37-61.

Article Abstract
This article 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. This discovery-oriented research aimed at theory development draws on an extensive, multiyear database of email trails and archival records detailing market-scoping efforts for early-stage technologies emerging from a global research university. From this longitudinal database, the authors provide an in-depth examination of managers’ market space decisions and advance an initial theory of market scoping. They 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 article lays the groundwork for advancing marketing research in the context of early-stage technology commercialization.


Special thanks to Kelley Gullo and Holly Howe, Ph.D. candidates at Duke University, for their support in working with authors on submissions to this program. 

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Sven Molner is Assistant Professor of Marketing, Goldsmiths, University of London, UK.

Jaideep C. Prabhu is Professor of Marketing and Jawaharlal Nehru Professor of Indian Business & Enterprise, Cambridge Judge Business School, University of Cambridge, UK.

Manjit S. Yadav is Professor of Marketing and Macy’s Foundation Professor, Mays Business School, Texas A&M University.