Summary of Market Rebels

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  • Innovative
  • Applicable


In the introduction to this book, author Hayagreeva Rao mentions that some sections have appeared in academic journals, but that he’s “rewritten [them] for the general reader rather than the specialist in organizational sociology.” May all such revisions be so smoothly executed! This fast-paced read features clear concepts and lively prose. Rao examines the role of social activists, especially engaged groups, in the fate of innovation. In doing so, he provides new perspectives on markets and documents that social engagement precedes shifts in the market. He educates readers about the techniques that such activists use, offering several radically different case studies, including the auto industry, microbrews and trends in French cooking. getAbstract recommends Rao’s book to anyone involved in innovation or marketing, as well as to students of cultural change.

About the Author

Hayagreeva Rao teaches in Stanford’s Graduate School of Business.



Activists and Innovation

When you think of the computer, you probably think of the technological breakthroughs involved in creating it. They were essential, but it was the social network of “the personal computing movement” that took the computer beyond the interest of the few and made it accessible to the many. The same is true of the automobile. It was mocked when it was first introduced, and many didn’t see the point. Then, auto clubs held competitions and rallies, sharing the results and conferring a new legitimacy on cars.

Activists have also mobilized against technological innovation. The deaf community’s response to cochlear implants is a good example. The implants can enable many deaf children to hear – but protests by deaf community activists cast the invention as an attack on their group’s identity.

Finding the best strategy for changing group identity can be tough: Do you try first to change beliefs and hope behavior change will follow? Or do you try to change behavior and hope the changed behavior will lead to changed beliefs? Kurt Lewin and other theorists believe groups change in a “three-step process”:

  1. “Unfreezing” the status...

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