Volume 21 (2021)


In a world of Google, Nike, Apple, Uber, and Starbucks, business practitioners might start to believe that the most successful company names are innovative, trendy, and even unusual. This approach of using stylish and uncommon names was identified by Muzellec (2006), who argued that companies were changing their approach to naming themselves. Nevertheless, while Muzellec’s (2006) findings are somewhat generalizable, the finding does not apply to all business sectors. This study presents a replication of Muzellec’s (2006) study in a business sector in which Muzellec’s (2006) company name trends do not apply: executive search firms (ESFs), also known as “headhunters.” The replication was conducted using a list of 93 members of the Association of Executive Search and Leadership Consultants (AESC). Additionally, to validate and extend Muzellec’s (2006) findings, we did a descriptive analysis on a second and larger dataset containing company names for 1199 self-reported ESFs listed in the U.S. Economic Census. Our study indicates that ESFs do not follow Muzellec’s (2006) findings; instead, we find that patronymic names are the dominant type of name in this industry.


Baldo, C, Evert, A, Chen McCain, S and Trawick, S (2021), "A study of Naming Taxonomies in the Executive Search Firms industry: A Replication and Extension Study", Journal of Empirical Generalisations in Marketing Science, Vol. 21, No. 1


Branding, Contestable Markets, Corporate Names, Executive Search Firms, Headhunting, Taxonomy