Contested internal legitimacy: the emergence of organized academic entrepreneurship

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to analyze the emergence of organized academic entrepreneurship in the context of institutional complexity, in which multiple institutional logics co-exist. The paper is focused on the dynamics of internal legitimation of new research commercialization initiatives and the interrelations between internal and external legitimacy and their underlying institutional logics. Design/methodology/approach: Based on a historical case study of the founding of Yeda Research and Development Company at the Weizmann Institute of Science in 1959, the paper examines the rhetorical struggles between the proponents and opponents of the company. The analysis is based on archival data and focuses on the analysis of a meeting of the Institute’s Scientific Committee in which the new company was introduced and debated. Findings: The findings show the strengths and limitations of rhetorical legitimation work in supporting the establishment of new organizational initiatives. Rhetorical strategies that bridge the different institutional logics in the field can enable the emergence of new enterprises. Yet, when organizational practices do not concur with the institutional logic on which internal legitimacy is based, new organizational initiatives become illegitimate and organizational actors withdraw their support. Originality/value: This paper contributes to a deeper understanding of the under-researched process of constructing internal legitimacy for an organizational change, both in general and in the specific context of academic entrepreneurship. Further, this study contributes new insights to research on the historical process of the emergence of organized research commercialization in universities in the context of institutional complexity.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)1-18
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Management History
Issue number1
StatePublished - 10 Jan 2020


  • Academic entrepreneurship
  • Internal legitimacy
  • Organization studies

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Business,Management and Accounting
  • History and Philosophy of Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Contested internal legitimacy: the emergence of organized academic entrepreneurship'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this