Date of Award




Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Department of Public Administration and Policy

Content Description

1 online resource (ix, 350 pages) : PDF file

Dissertation/Thesis Chair

David P. McCaffrey

Committee Members

Mitchel Y. Abolafia, Ellen V. Rubin


impression management, management, organizational behavior, organizational legitimacy, U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Securities, Organizational behavior, Organizational effectiveness, Corruption, Evaluation

Subject Categories

Business Administration, Management, and Operations | Organizational Behavior and Theory | Public Administration


Focusing on organizational legitimacy is an essential element to the survival of an organization. Suchman (1995) suggests that "Legitimacy is a generalized perception or assumption that the actions of an entity are desirable, proper, or appropriate within some socially constructed system of norms, values, beliefs, and definitions" (p. 574). Legitimacy must first be gained and then maintained. If lost, legitimacy must be regained or the organization is unlikely to survive. Organizations can use both symbolic and substantive means of gaining, maintaining or regaining legitimacy. This dissertation explores organizational legitimacy by examining the case of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The SEC is an independent regulatory agency in existence for almost 80 years. For much of its history, it has enjoyed a good reputation. However, in recent years its ability to properly regulate the securities markets has been called into question.