The Origin of the Legitimacy of Organizations and Their Determining Factors

  • Camilo Prado-Román
  • Francisco Díez-Martín
  • Alicia Blanco-González
  • Alberto Prado-Román
Part of the Studies in Systems, Decision and Control book series (SSDC, volume 125)


The aim of this research consists in analysing to what extent personal characteristics have an influence on the assessment process of organizational legitimacy. For this purpose, a questionnaire was used which examines the effect of five personal characteristics on four types of legitimacy. Subsequently, regression analysis was applied on a sample of 258 individuals. The results have shown that the persons with higher social awareness are more prone to make decisions about organizations taking into account the moral, regulatory and cognitive legitimacy. This type of assessment also occurs when the fear of receiving a social sanction increases. Likewise in the perception of a higher economic risk inherent to the result of a decision, people are more likely to make decisions based on cognitive and pragmatic legitimacy. Future research projects may confirm if the results of this investigation are repeated among different activity sectors and different sociodemographic environments. Accordingly, it would be possible to design a conceptual framework where the legitimacy preferences of interest groups are explained by sectors and personal characteristics. The results of this study extend the knowledge in the field of Institutional Theory about the origin of organizational legitimacy and the causes which condition it. It also facilitates improving the strategic planning of organizations by displaying the legitimacy preferences based on each person’s profile.


Legitimacy Organizational legitimacy Origin of legitimacy Types of legitimacy Sources of legitimacy Institutional theory 


  1. 1.
    Aldrich, H.E., Fiol, C.M.: Fools rush in? The institutional context of industry creation. Acad. Manag. Rev. Acad. Manag. 19(4), 645–670 (1994)Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Alonso-Almeida, M., Fernández de Navarrete, F.C., Rodriguez-Pomeda, J.: Corporate social responsibility perception in business students as future managers: a multifactorial analysis. Bus. Ethics Eur. Rev. 24(1), 1–17 (2015)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Bitektine, A.: Toward a theory of social judgments of organizations: the case of legitimacy, reputation, and status. Acad. Manag. Rev. 36(1), 151–179 (2011)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Blanco-González, A., Cruz-Suárez, A., Díez-Martín, F.: The EFQM model as an instrument to legitimise organisations. In: Peris-Ortiz, M., Álvarez-García, J., Rueda-Armengot, C. (eds.) Achieving Competitive Advantage through Quality Management, pp. 155–169. Springer International Publishing (2015) Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Brown, A.D.: Narrative, politics and legitimacy in an IT implementation. J. Manag. Stud. 35(1), 35–58 (1998)MathSciNetCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Chaney, D., Lunardo, R., Bressolles, G.: Making the store a place of learning: the effects of in-store educational activities on retailer legitimacy and shopping intentions. J. Bus. Res. (2016).
  7. 7.
    Chen, J., Wu, H., Yao, X.: Status, legitimacy, and the presence of outside directors in China. Manag. Decis. 54(5), 1205–1221 (2016)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Chung, J.Y., Berger, B.K., DeCoster, J.: Developing measurement scales of organizational and issue legitimacy: a case of direct-to-consumer advertising in the pharmaceutical industry. J. Bus. Ethics (2015).
  9. 9.
    Cruz-Suárez, A., Prado-Román, A., Prado-Román, M.: Cognitive legitimacy, resource access, and organizational outcomes. RAE-Revista de Administração de Empresas 54(5), 575–584 (2014)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Cruz-Suárez, A., Prado-Román, C., Díez-Martín, F.: Por qué se institucionalizan las organizaciones. Revista Europea de Dirección y Economía de la Empresa 23(1), 22–30 (2014)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Cruz-Suárez, A., Prado-Román, C., Escamilla-Solano, S.: Nations of entrepreneurs: a legitimacy perspective. In: Peris-Ortiz, M., Sahut, J.-M. (eds.) New Challenges in Entrepreneurship and Finance, pp. 157–168. Springer International Publishing (2015)Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Deephouse, D., Carter, S.: An examination of differences between organizational legitimacy and organizational reputation. J. Manag. Stud. 42(2), 329–360 (2005)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Deephouse, D.L.: Does isomorphism legitimate? Acad. Manag. J. 39(4), 1024–1039 (1996)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Deephouse, D.L., Suchman, M.: Legitimacy in organizational institutionalism. In: Greenwood, R., Oliver, C., Suddaby, R., Sahlin-Andersson, K. (eds.) The Sage Handbook of Organizational Institutionalism, pp. 49–77. Sage Publications, London (2008)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Díez-Martín, F., Blanco-González, A., Prado-Román, C.: Measuring organizational legitimacy: the case of mutual guarantee societies. Cuadernos de Economía y Dirección de la Empresa 43(junio), 115–144 (2010)Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Díez-Martín, F., Blanco-González, A., Prado-Román, C.: Explaining nation-wide differences in entrepreneurial activity: a legitimacy perspective. Int. Entrepreneurship Manag. J. 12(4), 1079–1102 (2016)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Díez-Martín, F., Prado-Román, C., Blanco-González, A.: Efecto del plazo de ejecución estratégica sobre la obtención de legitimidad organizativa. Investigaciones Europeas de Dirección y Economía de la Empresa 19(2), 120–125 (2013)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Díez-Martín, F., Prado-Roman, C., Blanco-González, A.: Beyond legitimacy: legitimacy types and organizational success. Manag. Decis. 51(10), 1954–1969 (2013)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Drori, I., Honig, B.: A process model of internal and external legitimacy. Organ. Stud. 34(3), 345–376 (2013)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Easterby-Smith, M., Thorpe, R., Jackson, P.R.: Management Research, 4th edn. SAGE Publications, London (2012)Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    Edwards, P.J., Roberts, I., Clarke, M.J., Diguiseppi, C., Wentz, R., Kwan, I., Cooper, R., et al.: Methods to increase response to postal and electronic questionnaires. Cochrane Database Syst. Rev. (3) (2009)Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Finch, D., Deephouse, D., Varella, P.: Examining an individual’s legitimacy judgment using the value-attitude system: the role of environmental and economic values and source credibility. J. Bus. Ethics 127(2), 265–281 (2015)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Garud, R., Schildt, H.A., Lant, T.K.: Entrepreneurial storytelling, future expectations, and the paradox of legitimacy. Organ. Sci. 25(5), 1479–1492 (2014)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. 24.
    Gil Aluja, J.: La selección de inversiones en futuro incierto. Revista de economía y empresa 7(17–18), 61–80 (1987)Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    Gil Aluja, J.: El riesgo y la incertidumbre en el momento actual. Revista de economía y empresa 8(20–21), 7–28 (1988)Google Scholar
  26. 26.
    Greenwood, R., Suddaby, R., Hinings, C.R.: Theorizing change: the role of professional associations in the transformation of institutionalized fields. Acad. Manag. J. 45(1), 58–80 (2002)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. 27.
    Haveman, H.A., David, R.J.: Ecologists and institutionalists: friends or foes? In: Greenwood, R., Oliver, C., Sahlin, K., Suddaby, R. (eds.) The Sage Handbook of Organizational Institutionalism, pp. 573–595. Sage, London (2008)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. 28.
    Iglesias Pérez, F.: Estudio de la economía sumergida: relación entre legitimidad y medidas para combatirla. Tesis Universidad Rey Juan Carlos (2014)Google Scholar
  29. 29.
    Kaufmann, A., Gil Aluja, J.: La programación de actividades por el método del semáforo. Revista europea de dirección y economía de la empresa 1(1), 7–14 (1992)Google Scholar
  30. 30.
    Liñán, F., Urbano, D., Guerrero, M.: Regional variations in entrepreneurial cognitions: start-up intentions of university students in Spain. Entrepreneurship Reg. Dev. (Routledge) 23(3–4), 187–215 (2011)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. 31.
    Maguire, S., Hardy, C.: Discourse and deinstitutionalization: the decline of DDT. Acad. Manag. J. 52(1), 148–178 (2009)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. 32.
    Manrai, A.K., Andrews, R.L.: Two-stage discrete choice models for scanner panel data: an assessment of process and assumptions. Eur. J. Oper. Res. 111(2), 193–215 (1998)CrossRefzbMATHGoogle Scholar
  33. 33.
    Meyer, J., Rowan, B.: Institutionalized organizations: formal structure as myth and ceremony. Am. J. Sociol. 83(2), 340–363 (1977)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. 34.
    Mingo, S.: Entrepreneurial ventures, institutional voids, and business group affiliation: the case of two Brazilian start-ups, 2002–2009. Academia Revista Latinoamericana de Administración 26(1), 61–76 (2013)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. 35.
    Oliver, C.: Strategic responses to institutional processes. Acad. Manag. Rev. 16(1), 145–179 (1991)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. 36.
    Pfeffer, J., Salancik, G.R.: The External Control of Organization: A Resource Dependence Perspective. Harper & Row, New York (1978)Google Scholar
  37. 37.
    Pollack, J.M., Rutherford, M.W., Nagy, B.G.: Preparedness and cognitive legitimacy as antecedents of new venture funding in televised business pitches. Entrepreneurship Theory Pract. 36(5), 915–939 (2012)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. 38.
    Rosch, E.: Principles of categorization. In: Rosch, E., Lloyd, B.B. (eds.) Cognition and Categorization, pp. 27–48. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates (1978)Google Scholar
  39. 39.
    Ruef, M., Scott, W.: A multidimensional model of organizational legitimacy: hospital survival in changing institutional environments. Adm. Sci. Q. 43(4), 877–904 (1998)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. 40.
    Rutherford, M.W., Buller, P.F.: Searching for the legitimacy threshold. J. Manag. Inquiry 16(1), 78–92 (2007)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. 41.
    Scott, W.R.: Institutions and Organizations. SAGE Publications (1995)Google Scholar
  42. 42.
    Shepherd, D., Zacharakis, A.: A new venture’s cognitive legitimacy: an assessment by customers. J. Small Bus. Manag. 41(2), 148–167 (2003)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. 43.
    Singh, J., Tucker, D., House, R.: Organizational legitimacy and the liability of newness. Adm. Sci. Q. 31(2), 171–193 (1986)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. 44.
    Suchman, M.C.: Managing legitimacy: strategic and institutional approaches. Acad. Manag. Rev. 20(3), 571 (1995)Google Scholar
  45. 45.
    Thomas, T.E.: Are business students buying it? A theoretical framework for measuring attitudes toward the legitimacy of environmental sustainability. Bus. Strategy Environ. 14(3), 186–197 (2005)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. 46.
    Überbacher, F.: Legitimation of new ventures: a review and research programme. J. Manag. Stud. 51(4), 667–698 (2014)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. 47.
    Wood, D.J.: Corporate social performance revisited. Acad. Manag. Rev. 16(4), 691–718 (1991)Google Scholar
  48. 48.
    Zimmerman, M., and Zeitz, G.J.: Beyond survival: achieving new venture growth by building legitimacy. Acad. Manag. Rev. 27(3), 414 (2002)Google Scholar
  49. 49.
    Zuckerman, E.W.: The categorical imperative: securities analysts and the illegitimacy discount. Am. J. Sociol. 104(5), 1398–1438 (1999)CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Camilo Prado-Román
    • 1
  • Francisco Díez-Martín
    • 1
  • Alicia Blanco-González
    • 1
  • Alberto Prado-Román
    • 1
  1. 1.Universidad Rey Juan CarlosMadridSpain

Personalised recommendations