Market Mediators and the Tradeoffs of Legitimacy-Seeking Behaviors in a Nascent Category

Forthcoming, Organization Science

Marshall School of Business Working Paper

54 Pages Posted: 9 Jun 2015 Last revised: 3 Aug 2018

See all articles by Brandon H. Lee

Brandon H. Lee

Melbourne Business School

Shon R. Hiatt

University of Southern California - Marshall School of Business

Michael Lounsbury

University of Alberta - Department of Strategic Management and Organization

Date Written: December 22, 2016

Abstract

Although existing research has demonstrated the importance of attaining legitimacy for new market categories, few scholars have considered the tradeoffs associated with such actions. Using the U.S. organic food product category as a context, we explore how one standards-based certification organization — the California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF) — sought to balance efforts to legitimate a nascent market category with retaining a shared, distinctive identity among its members. Our findings suggest that legitimacy-seeking behaviors undertaken by the standards organization diluted the initial collective identity and founding ethos of its membership. However, by shifting the meaning of organic from the producer to the product, CCOF was able to strengthen the categorical boundary, thereby enhancing its legitimacy. By showing how the organization managed the associated tradeoffs, this study highlights the double-edged nature of legitimacy and offers important implications for the literatures on legitimacy and new market category formation.

Suggested Citation

Lee, Brandon H. and Hiatt, Shon R. and Lounsbury, Michael, Market Mediators and the Tradeoffs of Legitimacy-Seeking Behaviors in a Nascent Category (December 22, 2016). Forthcoming, Organization Science; Marshall School of Business Working Paper. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2615964 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2615964

Brandon H. Lee (Contact Author)

Melbourne Business School ( email )

200 Leicester Street
Carlton, Victoria 3053 3186
Australia

Shon R. Hiatt

University of Southern California - Marshall School of Business ( email )

701 Exposition Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90089
United States

Michael Lounsbury

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

Edmonton, Alberta T6G 2R6
Canada

Register to save articles to
your library

Register

Paper statistics

Downloads
101
Abstract Views
844
rank
263,147
PlumX Metrics