Gaining and maintaining organizational legitimacy can be a major issue for social and political structures such as cultural organizations. Legitimacy, sometimes called credibility, brings with it access to resources needed for survival and development. Organizations without legitimacy tend not to be successful in attracting grants, subsidies, and sponsorships. Research suggests that legitimate organizations may be seen as valuable social structures (Hybels 1995; Suchman 1995) and come to be “taken for granted” as part of the social fabric. In this article, I explore organizational legitimacy using the framework of institutional theory. I first define legitimacy and then discuss the key concepts of organizational legitimacy. Next, I present a case study based on an art/craft/design school. The school, known as the Bauhaus, existed between 1919 and 1933 in three German cities—Weimar, Dessau, and Berlin. Deterministic views of the pre–World War II environment suggest that the Nazi party was responsible for the closure of the Bauhaus. I argue that other factors were apparent. The Nazi regime was becoming a significant force in the late 1920s, but the story of the Bauhaus becomes more complex when viewed under the rubric of arts management and organizational legitimacy. In this article, I discuss how the Bauhaus sought and managed legitimacy and the role that the state and other actors played in granting that legitimacy. In conclusion, I offer a summary of the relevance of legitimacy to contemporary arts organizations.
Published by Heldref, a division of the nonprofit Helen Dwight Reid Educational Foundation
Field of Research
150312 Organisational Planning and Management
Socio Economic Objective
970115 Expanding Knowledge in Commerce, Management, Tourism and Services
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