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Legitimacy strategies as complexity reduction in a post-national world: a systems-theory perspective


Scherer, A G; Palazzo, G; Seidl, D (2008). Legitimacy strategies as complexity reduction in a post-national world: a systems-theory perspective. In: 4th Organization Studies Summer Workshop 2008: “Embracing complexity: advancing ecological understanding in organizational studies”, Pissouri, Cyprus, 5 June 2008 - 7 June 2008.

Abstract

Legitimacy can be understood as the social acceptance of actions or institutions and is a vital resource for the sustained survival of companies in competitive environments. Legitimacy is subjectively perceived and ascribed to institutions and activities in processes of social construction. In recent times organizational legitimacy has been maintained primarily by either adapting to the social expectations of the company’s environment or by actively influencing the expectations of relevant stakeholder groups by means of advertising, public relations or strategic manipulation. During the process of globalization, however, companies are facing situations of increased complexity and heterogeneity in their environments so that the legitimacy strategies of adaptation and strategic manipulation may easily fail. In such situations, companies have to build on a third strategy, moral reasoning, in order to (re-)establish their legitimacy. However, moral reasoning cannot completely substitute both the other legitimacy strategies. We suggest that in order to survive in complex and competitive environments companies have to establish the organizational capacity to activate all of the three legitimacy strategies. In the present paper will develop a theoretical framework for three legitimacy strategies and their organizational implementation. We will build upon systems theory and empirical evidence from exemplary case studies.

Abstract

Legitimacy can be understood as the social acceptance of actions or institutions and is a vital resource for the sustained survival of companies in competitive environments. Legitimacy is subjectively perceived and ascribed to institutions and activities in processes of social construction. In recent times organizational legitimacy has been maintained primarily by either adapting to the social expectations of the company’s environment or by actively influencing the expectations of relevant stakeholder groups by means of advertising, public relations or strategic manipulation. During the process of globalization, however, companies are facing situations of increased complexity and heterogeneity in their environments so that the legitimacy strategies of adaptation and strategic manipulation may easily fail. In such situations, companies have to build on a third strategy, moral reasoning, in order to (re-)establish their legitimacy. However, moral reasoning cannot completely substitute both the other legitimacy strategies. We suggest that in order to survive in complex and competitive environments companies have to establish the organizational capacity to activate all of the three legitimacy strategies. In the present paper will develop a theoretical framework for three legitimacy strategies and their organizational implementation. We will build upon systems theory and empirical evidence from exemplary case studies.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Conference or Workshop Item (Paper), refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:03 Faculty of Economics > Department of Business Administration
Dewey Decimal Classification:330 Economics
Language:English
Event End Date:7 June 2008
Deposited On:09 Feb 2009 11:53
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 12:56
Additional Information:View research and articles of the Author Andreas Georg Scherer on SSRN Author page: http://ssrn.com/author=721161

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