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Abstract

This paper reports a series of four experiments conducted to gain insight into students' social representations of the firm. The results suggested a possible revision of the central core theory. They showed that the central elements of the representation were treated differently by the subjects. More specifically, the notion of Profit and Hierarchy, both central, did not play the same role in the representation. The subjects were found to grant evaluative power to the notion of Profit but not to the notion of Hierarchy. This differentiation by evaluative potential was also found for two peripheral elements. These differences suggest that independently of their central or peripheral nature, the various elements of a representation can be placed along an evaluative continuum. By combining the evaluative dimension and the central or peripheral dimension of the elements, we obtain a two-dimensional model of representations which divides discourse and cognition into four fields.