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An ethnographic study of new venture and new sector legitimation: Evidence from Moldova

Romeo V. Turcan (Department of Business and Management, Aalborg University, Aalborg, Denmark)
Norman M. Fraser (Henley Business School, University of Reading, Reading, UK)

International Journal of Emerging Markets

ISSN: 1746-8809

Article publication date: 18 January 2016




The purpose of this paper is to explore the process of legitimation of international new ventures (INVs) from an emerging economy and the effect such ventures have on the process of creation and legitimation of a new industry in that economy.


It is a longitudinal ethnographic case study. Following an inductive theory building approach, data were collected over an 11-year period via in-depth interviews, participant observations and unobtrusive data.


Data reveal three different contexts in which legitimation takes place: legitimation of the new industry and of the new venture domestically and internationally. A new venture drives the process of industry legitimation by achieving legitimacy threshold first nationally at meso and micro levels as well as internationally. The challenge therefore for such a venture is to establish legitimacy in the absence of any precedents at the organization, industry or international levels. Unless at least one new venture achieves legitimacy threshold in a new industry there is no possibility for that industry to become institutionalized.

Research limitations/implications

The authors advocate for further research at the intersection between legitimation, international entrepreneurship and emerging markets in order to further advance the emergent theory.

Practical implications

The data suggest that in order for an INV to achieve cognitive legitimacy and socio-political legitimacy in an emerging industry located in an emerging economy, and successfully internationalize, it shall design a robust business model targeting both internal and external stakeholders; engage in persuasive argumentation invoking familiar cues and scripts; engage in political negotiations promoting and defending incentive and operating mechanisms; and overcome the country-of-origin effect by pursuing technology legitimation strategy.

Social implications

Governments and NGOs may wish to see new industries emerge but they lack the means and mandate to establish and lead them themselves, instead rely on enabling actions, such as investment in capacity building. However, building capacity for an as-yet non-existent industry in an emerging economy may prove to be counter-productive, driving a brain drain of qualified workers who are forced to migrate to find suitable work. The work leads the authors to speculate about whether there may be a role for investment in programs of industry legitimacy building in pursuit of public policy objectives.


The study puts forward a process model of new industry legitimation. The model theorizes the process of change from an initial condition in which an industry does not exist to a final condition in which it is institutionalized. The model addresses the case where the initial catalyst is the formation of an INV that is the seed for the birth of the industry. Since both the new venture and the new industry lack cognitive and socio-political legitimacies, the model theorizes temporal emergence of these at organizational and industry levels, leading ultimately to institutionalization.



Turcan, R.V. and Fraser, N.M. (2016), "An ethnographic study of new venture and new sector legitimation: Evidence from Moldova", International Journal of Emerging Markets, Vol. 11 No. 1, pp. 72-88.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2016, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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