Interacting to gain legitimacy: A process perspective on institutionalization in business networks

Christopher John Medlin, Jan-Åke Törnroos

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceedingConference contributionProfessional


The role of institutions in providing a past and future loaded network for supporting and shaping business interactions has received limited attention within a process ontology. Institutionalization theory proposes that actors gain legitimacy through pragmatic, social and cognitive processes. However, the interaction processes between actors that lead to legitimizing are not well explicated, mainly because the conceptualization of dynamics is left implied. In this paper we apply an explicit dynamic perspective, which notes different paces of change to understand actor-legitimizing processes in an emerging business network. We introduce and apply the concepts of intra-and extra-network for firms and social entities according to degree of dynamic stability in the empirical setting. Our theoretical perspective is exemplified by a case study of an emerging biofuel network, where funds and joint actors are sought and gained through different phases of legitimizing

Key words: Network change and emergence, process research, actors, network levels, biofuel development

Original languageUndefined/Unknown
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 31st Annual IMP Conference, Kolding, Denmark
EditorsClarke Ann, Freytag Per, Munksgaard Kristin
PublisherIndustrial Marketing & Purchasing Group
Publication statusPublished - 2015
MoE publication typeD3 Professional conference proceedings

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