Balancing Legitimacy and Distinctiveness in Corporate Messaging

Mignon Halderen, Cees van Riel, TJ Brown

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


This paper shows how 6 large oil companies express their identity by using 2 messaging patterns in managing legitimacy and distinctiveness. In the first pattern (aiming at legitimacy), companies focus on transparency, sincerity and consistency to build understanding and acceptance among stakeholders. In the second pattern (aimed at distinctiveness) companies take a more provocative standpoint in a public debate to facilitate competitive advantage. We develop a theoretical framework and propositions explaining when and how oil companies adopt 1 of the 2 patterns depending on their existing reputation, experienced institutional pressures and their organizational identity.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)273-299
Number of pages27
JournalCorporate Reputation Review
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2012

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