Organizational Legitimacy of International Research Collaborations: Crossing Boundaries in the Middle East
Cross-border academic collaborations in conflict zones are vulnerable to escalated turbulence, liability concerns and flagging support. Multi-level stakeholder engagement at home and abroad is essential for securing the political and financial sustainability of such collaborations. This study examines the multilayered stakeholder arrangements within an international academic health science network contributing to peace-building in the Middle East. While organizational forms in this collaboration change to reflect the structural, epistemic and political expectations of various support groups operating locally and globally, the legitimacy of the international research and its contribution to the peace-building process last as long as institutional norms of academic enterprise – integrity, impartiality and collegiality – are sustained. This paper analyzes the reconciliatory strategies used by the collaborating health scientists to mitigate organizational turbulence, reduce resource asymmetries and continually build and rebuild bridges across stakeholder communities.