Drawing on sociolinguistics, the paper proposes an encoding-decoding perspective on evaluation, conceptualizing codes as interpretive schemas that are encoded by firms and decoded by audiences. A key element in this process is code complexity, denoting combinations of interdependent elements. We demonstrate that the evaluation of code complexity depends on the type of audience (professionals and laypersons) and the type of complexity (technological and aesthetic). We analyze the attribution of awards by professionals and the public in luxury watchmaking, featuring three mechanisms: the social embeddedness of audiences, their motivation for evaluation, and supply-and-demand matching. The results attest to significant differences in the evaluation of technological and aesthetic code complexity by professionals and laypersons. There is a premium attributed to aesthetic code complexity by professionals, and a premium attributed to technological complexity by laypersons. Finding the right type and level of code complexity to pursue in their offerings is a key strategic challenge for producers. Link to the article
CLAES, K., GODART, F. and SGOUREV, S. (2020). Aesthetic and Technological Complexity in Luxury Watchmaking. Advances in Strategic Management, 42, pp. 49-76.