Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Swimming with dolphins: A study on legitimacy processes in the Southern California tuna industry
by Teixeira, Ana, Ph.D., The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 2009, 179; 3366465
Abstract (Summary)

This dissertation examines organizational legitimacy processes in the Southern California tuna fleet fishing in the Eastern Pacific Ocean. The study employs a multidimensional model of organizational legitimacy consisting of cognitive legitimacy (producers’ and consumers’ dimension), and moral legitimacy. I use print media-based measures of cognitive and moral legitimacy collected for the period between 1903-2000 and an event history dataset on foundings and disbandings of Southern California tuna vessels’ during the period between 1926-2003.

Findings suggest that producers’ cognitive legitimacy plays an important role in organizational dynamics by increasing the number of vessel foundings and decreasing the number of vessel disbandings. The effect of producers’ cognitive legitimacy is felt even after adjustment for important ecological predictors such as organizational density, prior foundings and prior disbanding, thus confirming the need to use direct measures of legitimacy in the study of organizational processes. In terms of the regulatory environment, international regulations have a negative impact on foundings, but national regulations did not show any impact on foundings or disbandings. Compared however to the regulatory period of the tuna industry, the pre-regulatory period of the industry shows decreased exits of vessels. However, neither consumers’ cognitive legitimacy nor negative moral legitimacy show any impact on vessel foundings or disbandings.

In order to understand the different mechanisms that compose organizational legitimacy, I conduct an in-depth analysis of producers’ cognitive legitimacy. Through a qualitative content analysis, I deconstruct the measure into different levels of analysis (i.e., organizational, population, and community), and identify different categories of organizational knowledge. I finalize my in-depth analysis by identifying the different negative impacts that became associated with the tuna industry and the several strategies that industry’s producers used to raise and protect its legitimacy in the cognitive and moral arenas. The findings suggest that legitimacy has a differential influence on organizational foundings and disbandings, depending on the particular type of legitimacy and the historical period of the tuna industry.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Aldrich, Howard E.
Commitee: Blau, Judith, Guo, Guang, Mouw, Ted, Nielsen, Francois
School: The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Department: Sociology
School Location: United States -- North Carolina
Source: DAI-A 70/07, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Management, Labor relations, Organizational behavior
Keywords: California, Cognitive legitimacy, Legitimacy, Moral legitimacy, Organizational knowledge, Tuna industry
Publication Number: 3366465
ISBN: 978-1-109-27747-0
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