Processes of Legitimation: The University of Phoenix and Its Institutional Environment
AuthorHughes, Martin David
Committee ChairGalaskiewicz, Joseph
Clemens, Elisabeth S.
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractSpecifically, this dissertation explains the rise of the for-profit university in the United States. Generally, it explains the legitimation of a new (form of) organization in an institutional environment.In this dissertation I demonstrate that organizational legitimation is a process whereby a key audience serving as an institutional gatekeeper cognitively comprehends an applicant as a member of an existing category in the audience's classification system. When this process is problematic or contested, it consists of active negotiations between the audience and the applicant (and sometimes third parties) over how to apply or interpret the rules of classification.Using a case-study framework I selected seven cases from the history of the leading for-profit university, the University of Phoenix. These cases represented episodes of successful legitimation by the three key gatekeeping audiences in the postsecondary education environment. I assembled the documentary record for each of these cases and supplemented them with informant interviews. With this evidence I compiled a narrative for each episode which I then analyzed using comparative and historical methods.I found that audiences' classification systems varied according to their category configurations and their classification rules, and that these variations may affect how legitimation proceeds. I further found that audiences and applicants draw from their own tool kits of unilateral, bilateral, and multilateral strategies. Finally, I found that legitimation may proceed according to one of several different temporal models.