Legitimacy, Institutions, and Practical Responsibility

Joachim Delventhal*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingBook chapterResearchpeer-review


The rationality behind corporate responsibility must evolve for business to gain and retain legitimacy and to strengthen the institutional framework of global governance. Responsibility in practice as a means toward legitimacy is becoming more important for corporate actors in line with the growth of their influence in global governance and the external expectations connected to that. At the same time that the dynamics of governance and the role of business changes, the quality of governance issues has changed. With the emergence of universal and existential issues in a context of complexity and connectedness, business legitimacy faces growing scrutiny. The potential for a universal scope of responsibility for businesses due to their global influence in the context of various governance issues and with that a wide range of addressees, means that corporate actors need to meet the growing challenges of their legitimacy. This chapter suggests that a general structure for an approach that utilizes responsibility, as a means toward sustainable legitimacy, should incorporate at a minimum the three phases of critical reflection, prioritization, and collaboration. It is important to emphasize that a responsibility in practice needs to incorporate both the social and natural environment, as defined by Jonas. Additionally, it must build on prospective evaluation of expected consequences of business operations, despite apparent complexity. This chapter points toward teleological ethical considerations as opposed to established moral and legal norms to guide the approach toward consequence-based responsibility in practice and thereby sustainable business legitimacy.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHandbook of Business Legitimacy : Responsibility, Ethics and Society
EditorsJacob Dahl Rendtorff
Number of pages20
Place of PublicationCham
Publication date2020
ISBN (Print)9783030146214
ISBN (Electronic)9783030146221, 9783319688459
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Business legitimacy
  • Existentiality
  • Global governance
  • Practical responsibility
  • Universality
  • Corporate responsibility
  • CSR

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