Looking for New Forms of Legitimacy in Asia

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Through a rhetoric analysis of 776 projects from firms located in 22 Asian countries, the authors argue that companies are looking for new forms of legitimacy that cannot be completely explained using traditional management theories. The authors introduce political theory into the debate. First, this study proposes a three-approach model of legitimation: The first approach is based on the strategic rhetoric as a mechanism for achieving pragmatic legitimacy, the second one uses the institutional rhetoric for gaining cognitive legitimacy, and the third, the political approach, is one through which firms seek to obtain moral legitimacy. The political strategy is aimed at improving the discursive quality between corporations and their stakeholders. Second, since the motivation for differing legitimacy strategies should be understood within their institutional environment, the authors look for patterns within each strategy dependent on national, industry, and firm-specific characteristics.