Strategic Venturing as Legitimacy Creation: The Case of Sustainability

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Legitimacy is crucial for the survival and growth of strategic ventures inside larger corporations. Yet, despite much progress, research on the strategic venturing-legitimacy nexus, that is, how internal strategic initiatives gain legitimacy and become part of the corporate strategy, remains underexplored. Drawing on the analysis of a longitudinal case study of the development of a sustainability initiative within a major diversified firm, we identified three core mechanisms of legitimation – seeding, energizing and prospering – that turned the concept of sustainability from an internally widely shared moral obligation into a business case. Our study contributes three distinct mechanisms that facilitate the legitimation and the integration of a strategic initiative within the corporate strategy. Moreover, we show how the sequence of legitimation mechanisms matters and highlight the inherently sequenced nature of strategic venture legitimation.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Management Studies
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)417-459
Number of pages43
Publication statusPublished - 03.2022

    Research areas

  • strategic venturing, internal corporate venturing, legitimacy, process theory, sustainability, case study
  • Management studies