Mass media and massive failures: Determining organizational efforts to defend field legitimacy following crises

Vinit M. Desai
Academy of Management Journal, Volume 54, Issue 2, pp. 263-278

Although much is known regarding how individual organizations respond to accidents, scandals, and other disruptions that directly affect their own operations, scrutiny following disruptions can spread to impact other organizations in the same field. Yet existing research provides little guidance regarding how these other organizations respond when an entire field’s legitimacy is threatened. Drawing on institutional theory, I examine how organizations may undertake efforts to minimize disruptions and defend activities within their field. Findings suggest that defensive efforts depend on similarities between stricken firms and potential responders and on how constituents attend to related issues across the field.