A process model of internal and external legitimacy

Israel Drori, Benson Honig*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


We report the results of a longitudinal case study depicting the relationship between internal and external legitimacy at Orion, an emergent creative professional firm. We address the following questions: How do different types of legitimacy emerge, and how do they interact to shape organizational evolution? Introducing a staged process model, we demonstrate that organizational legitimacy is a product of action, which is continually reproduced and reconstructed by members of an organization in concert with external legitimation activities. Internal and external legitimacy evolve through a process of emergence, validation, diffusion and consensus, sometimes recursively repeating the cycle when imbalances result in conflict and friction.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)345-376
Number of pages32
JournalOrganization Studies
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • institutional work
  • internal and external legitimacy
  • organizational legitimation
  • process model


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