Take Action

Home | Faculty & Research Overview | Research

Research Details

A Social Identity Formulation of Organizational Reputation and Legitimacy, Corporate Reputation Review

Abstract

Legitimacy and reputation are both perceptions of approval of an organization's actions. Legitimacy is a perception that organizations conform with taken-for-granted standards. Reputation is a perception that organizations are positively distinctive within their peer group. While the need for inclusion and distinction may seem somewhat contradictory on its face, we maintain that both functional demands are grounded in an organization's adopted social identities, or social identity referents, characterized herein as social category memberships. Social identities constitute an organization's reference group and provide stakeholders with standards by which assessments of the organization are made. Organizations are seen as having legitimacy when they comply with the minimum standards of a particular social identity prototype, a prototypical X-type organization. Organizations have good reputations when they are viewed favorably relative to the ideal standard for a particular social identity, an ideal, or esteemed, X-type organization. Conventional thinking holds that legitimacy is a requirement of all organizations, whereas reputation is a desirable, but not essential property. This paper argues that, from the perspective of identity theory, reputation and legitimacy are complementary, reciprocal concepts, linked to the dual identification requirements: who is this actor similar to and how is this actor different from all similar others. The implications of this fresh perspective for organizational reputation scholarship are discussed.

Type

Article

Author(s)

Brayden King, David Whetten

Date Published

2008

Citations

King, Brayden, and David Whetten. 2008. A Social Identity Formulation of Organizational Reputation and Legitimacy. Corporate Reputation Review. 11(3): 192-207.

KELLOGG INSIGHT

Explore leading research and ideas

Find articles, podcast episodes, and videos that spark ideas in lifelong learners, and inspire those looking to advance in their careers.
learn more

COURSE CATALOG

Review Courses & Schedules

Access information about specific courses and their schedules by viewing the interactive course scheduler tool.
LEARN MORE

DEGREE PROGRAMS

Discover the path to your goals

Whether you choose our Full-Time, Part-Time or Executive MBA program, you’ll enjoy the same unparalleled education, exceptional faculty and distinctive culture.
learn more

Take Action