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Means-end relations are generally assumed to be hierarchical, and, by implication, asymmetrical. That is, if A is a means to achieve B, B is not at the same time also a means to achieve A. Literature casting doubt on this directedness of means-end relations is reviewed, and the hypothesis of means-end relations having direction is tested in two empirical studies. In these studies the means-end relations turn out to be symmetrical rather than asymmetrical. Means-end structures may therefore better be conceptualized as semantic networks rather than as straight hierarchies. Consequently, for the presentation and interpretation of the results from means-end studies, the emphasis should be on elements that derive from the network nature of the cognitive structure and not from the (possibly misleading) notions of hierarchy.
- C44 : Statistical Decision Theory; Operations Research
- M : Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting
- M31 : Marketing
- D21 : Firm Behavior
- means-end relations
- implication matrix