JOURNAL ARTICLE | Administrative Science Quarterly | 47 | January 2002
Book Review: The Psychology of Legitimacy: Emerging Perspectives on Ideology, Justice, and Intergroup Relations (John T. Jost and Brenda Major, eds. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001)
The psychology of legitimacy is increasingly central to organizations, especially as firms enter the knowledge economy, in which individuals and their ideas become the chief sources of wealth creation. More and more, firms from every sector are characterized by flattened hierarchies, greater levels of individual autonomy and self-management, large numbers of peripatetic temporary workers, and control processes guided more by normative codes of conduct than by top-down authority relations and direct supervision. Attaining and maintaining legitimacy from and between employees is ever more important as the traditional processes of organizational legitimation are rapidly being replaced by individual and group-based processes.With legitimacy, firms can build loyalty and positive and productive work environments, and organization leaders can effectuate positive and sustainable change. This raises a number of important questions for managers and organizations in their search for internal legitimacy. What are the psychological antecedents to legitimacy? How can organizations best use these social psychological building blocks to leverage the creativity, energy, and dedication of their knowledge employees? Conversely, how do individuals construct rationalizations and stereotypes to legitimize discriminatory and prejudicial ideas and actions?Given that organizational control is increasingly shaped by normative group codes of conduct, what are the impacts of these legitimizing ideologies on firms? And how can managers spot and mitigate the discriminatory processes of legitimation while building on healthy ones?