Legitimating Nascent Collective Identities: Coordinating Cultural Entrepreneurship

Organization Science, Vol. 22, No. 2, March–April 2011, pp. 449–463

University of Alberta School of Business Research Paper No. 2013-30

Posted: 20 May 2013 Last revised: 23 May 2013

See all articles by Tyler Wry

Tyler Wry

University of Pennsylvania - The Wharton School, Management Department

Michael Lounsbury

University of Alberta - Department of Strategic Management and Organization

Mary Ann Glynn

Boston College - Carroll School of Management

Date Written: November 17, 2010

Abstract

The concept of collective identity has gained prominence within organizational theory as researchers have studied how it consequentially shapes organizational behavior. However, much less attention has been paid to the question of how nascent collective identities become legitimated. Although it is conventionally argued that membership expansion leads to collective identity legitimacy, we draw on the notion of cultural entrepreneurship to argue that the relationship is more complex and is culturally mediated by the stories told by group members. We propose a theoretical framework about the conditions under which the collective identity of a nascent entrepreneurial group is more likely to be legitimated. Specifically, we posit that legitimacy is more likely to be achieved when members articulate a clear defining collective identity story that identifies the group’s orienting purpose and core practices. Although membership expansion can undermine legitimation by introducing discrepant actors and practices to a collective identity, this potential downside is mitigated by growth stories, which help to coordinate expansion. Finally, we theorize how processes associated with collective identity membership expansion might affect the evolution of defining collective identity stories.

Keywords: institutional theory, organization and management theory, organizational identity and identification

Suggested Citation

Wry, Tyler and Lounsbury, Michael and Glynn, Mary Ann, Legitimating Nascent Collective Identities: Coordinating Cultural Entrepreneurship (November 17, 2010). Organization Science, Vol. 22, No. 2, March–April 2011, pp. 449–463; University of Alberta School of Business Research Paper No. 2013-30. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2266587

Tyler Wry (Contact Author)

University of Pennsylvania - The Wharton School, Management Department ( email )

The Wharton School
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6370
United States

Michael Lounsbury

University of Alberta - Department of Strategic Management and Organization ( email )

Edmonton, Alberta T6G 2R6
Canada

Mary Ann Glynn

Boston College - Carroll School of Management ( email )

140 Commonwealth Avenue
Chestnut Hill, MA 02467
United States

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