Legitimacy and Legitimation Practices: An Analysis of TSMO Networks
Keywords:international nongovernmental organizations, organizational legitimacy, organizational networks
Private transnational organizations have grown in number and in influence. However, sociologists and political scientists often study them separately, either as transnational social movement organizations (TSMOs) or the larger category of international non-governmental organizations (INGOs). In this paper, I examine the determinants of TSMO legitimacy by drawing on the literature on INGOs. In so doing, I call for bridging the disciplinary gap between sociology and political science. Empirically, I find that legitimation benefits already prominent organizations more than those that are not. Networking thus helps reproduce the hierarchy among the TSMOs, challenging the earlier notion that TSMOs are horizontally networked. However, I also find that Southern TSMOs are more likely to gain legitimacy than Northern TSMOs once they are visible to their peers. The analysis of TSMOs thus cautions our bias to study Northern INGOs and generalize the findings to INGO population. Overall, my findings reveal that the incentives and strategies that INGO research has documented exist among TSMOs despite their counter-hegemonic ambitions.