Legitimacy and positionality in social networks: a study of business schools and social media

Thomas Roulet, Robin Shields

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

Abstract

Most universities derive legitimacy from well-established institutional models that hold currency with a wide array of stakeholders, including academics, students, governments and the public. Despite their rapid growth, business schools have struggled to achieve the same degree of institutional legitimacy as universities. This study seeks to better understand the legitimacy of institutions by investigating how business schools form networks on the social media platform Twitter. Specifically, it explores the structure of social networks between business schools on Twitter, then tests the extent to which network structures reflect underlying aspects of institutional legitimacy. We find evidence that business schools that closely adhere to moral norms of equality and diversity hold more central positions in social networks. We argue that peers are willing to confer legitimacy on those who meet these criteria, yet those that more effectively materialize pragmatic outcomes (e.g. student employment) are comparatively isolated.
Original languageEnglish
JournalHigher Education
Publication statusPublished - 2016

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