Interorganizational Defamation as a Strategy for Legitimacy Gains

Henriette Englev

Student thesis: Master thesis


This thesis offers a view of interorganizational defamation (Mohamed & Gardner, 2004) as a possible organizational strategy for gaining legitimacy relative to the defamed competitor. The defamation is theorized to be able to prompt the individual evaluator’s reassessment of legitimacy judgments (Tost, 2011), which could result in the evaluator finding the defamed organization less legitimate than the defaming organization, thus achieving a relative gain in legitimacy for the defaming organization compared to the defamed. Furthermore, organizational stigmatization (Devers et al., 2009; Hudson, 2008) is introduced as a possible moral legitimacy judgment and is theorized to make it probable that the moral dimension is weighed the heaviest in the reassessed generalized legitimacy judgment. Based on this, successfully getting the evaluator to stigmatize the defamed organization via the defamatory communication is theorized to be the condition under which the largest relative legitimacy gain could be achieved by the defaming organization. Additionally, the extent of the legitimacy benefit the defaming organization could achieve is theorized to be influenced by the factors of divisiveness of the vilification, perceived lack of goal-interference by evaluators, cynicism ascribed to defamer, discovered transgressions of defamer, and evaluators’ lack of receptiveness to the prompting of judgment reassessment.

EducationsCand.merc.smc Strategic Market Creation, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2019
Number of pages60
SupervisorsDennis Schoeneborn