Four media roles in organizational legitimation - News media participation in discursive legitimation processes

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School of Business | Doctoral thesis (monograph)
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Aalto University publication series DOCTORAL DISSERTATIONS, 90/2018
    Although legitimacy scholars acknowledge that the mainstream news media play an important role in organizational legitimation processes, there has been no systematic identification and examination of a range of roles that the news media perform in these processes. Moreover, legitimacy research has not paid much attention to how the news media participate in and shape the social and discursive processes in which organizational legitimacy is constructed, contested and undermined by organizations, the media themselves, and their audiences in public arenas. Accordingly, this dissertation sets out to explore and examine not only the various roles of the media in discursive processes of organizational legitimation, but also how different types of organizations mobilize the media in these roles for their own ends. It does so first by drawing from a foundational theoretical framework defining social and political roles of the media in sociology and mass communication literature. This framework is then applied to a systematic literature review of legitimacy studies to identify, define and theoretically elaborate four roles of conduit, facilitator, mediator and political actor that media perform in legitimation processes. Next, drawing on critical discourse analysis (CDA), this study empirically illustrates and elaborates (1) how the news media performed these four roles in the context of a discursive struggle between an activist group and a central bank over the legitimacy of a politically controversial organizational activity in 2012-2015, and (2) how the activist group and central bank made use of discursive means in the mobilization of media in these roles.  This dissertation contributes to management and organization studies literature on legitimation involving the media by developing and empirically illustrating an integrative framework through which to analyze four roles that the media play in discursive processes of legitimation. This framework shifts attention to, and sheds new light on, distinct ways in which the news media serve as a platform for and influence, facilitate and mediate discursive processes of organizational legitimation in public arenas.
Supervising professor
Moisander, Johanna, Prof., Aalto University, Department of Management Studies , Finland
conduit, discursive legitimation, facilitator, mediator, media roles, political actor
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