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Title:Institutional hearings as symbolic process: The re-legitimation of organizational practices
Author(s):King, Thomas Ray
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Murnighan, J. Keith
Department / Program:Business Administration
Discipline:Business Administration
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Business Administration, Management
Political Science, General
Sociology, General
Abstract:The present study investigates how organizations reestablish legitimacy by symbolically managing the meaning of their actions when publicly accused of wrongdoing. During governmental hearings to respond to the allegations, organizations can make real changes in their structures and practices to reestablish legitimacy. In contrast to this substantive re-legitimation, symbolic legitimation refers to reframing the meaning of the actions to create the perception of legitimacy.
This dissertation posits that such hearings are as much for the purpose of re-legitimation as they are for fact-finding, and that the re-legitimation process occurs through the dialogue or "talk" that characterizes these public events. More specifically, organizational representatives offer stories that reframe alleged wrongdoing to make their actions consistent with socially acceptable practices. The sequential nature of the dialogue may thus reveal the patterns and relationships of issues, questions, and responses that are designed to re-legitimate.
The data include transcripts from the testimony of executives from three financial organizations that had been closed by the federal government, who testified before U.S. Congressional Committees concerning allegations of mismanagement and fraud. Analysis of these data fit the assumption that governmental hearings correspond to a re-legitimation, as opposed to a fact-finding, model. The study also shows that the dialogue consists of significant, stable patterns among the issues, questions, and responses in the transcripts, thus providing evidence of symbolic re-legitimation processes. Finally, implications of these results for theory and research on the process of organizational legitimacy are discussed.
Issue Date:1992
Rights Information:Copyright 1992 King, Thomas Ray
Date Available in IDEALS:2011-05-07
Identifier in Online Catalog:AAI9236504
OCLC Identifier:(UMI)AAI9236504

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