The limits of reflected glory: The beneficial and harmful effects of product name similarity in the U.S. network TV program industry, 1944-2003

Olga Khessina, Samira Reis


The market fate of a product ultimately determines the success or failure of a firm. A name is a central feature of any product, yet how names affect product market longevity is not well understood. In this paper we develop a theory in which a new product's name affects the product's categorization by audiences and, as a result, impacts its survival chances on the market. We predict that the similarity of the new product's name to names of other products in the industry affects its survival probability, but the direction and magnitude of this effect depends on the popularity and status of products, to names of which the new product's name is similar. We test our predictions on the population of all TV programs that were introduced during prime time plus early evening and late night on networks in the United States from the beginning of the industry in 1944 through 2003. An event history analysis of this population supports our predictions and thus suggests the importance of names in product market viability.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)411-427
Number of pages17
JournalOrganization Science
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Categorization
  • Naming
  • Organizational ecology
  • Product demography
  • Product exit
  • Product name
  • Product survival
  • Product turnover
  • Television industry

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Strategy and Management
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management
  • Management of Technology and Innovation

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