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Sustainable housing development: the legitimacy-seeking perspective

Chee Wei Cheah (School of Business, Shenzhen Technology University, Shenzhen, China)
Brian Low (Department of Marketing, Monash University Malaysia, Bandar Sunway, Malaysia)
Christina Kwai-Choi Lee (Federation Business School, Federation University, Australia)

Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing

ISSN: 0885-8624

Article publication date: 20 November 2020

Issue publication date: 25 May 2021




Rapid urbanization and the influx of rural residents to urban cities has led to the growth of informal settlements globally. Drawing on institutional theory, this paper aims to examine institutional actors’ legitimacy seeking behaviour to housing issues and their responses to regulative, normative and cultural pressures.


The qualitative case-study research approach is adopted by conducting 25 in-depth interviews that involved purposefully chosen institutional actors in the housing sector. Online observations and documents are used to support the interview data.


Thematic analysis of data gathered suggests that these actors, guided by sensemaking, invest in relationship-building to attain market, social, relational and political legitimacy. The relationship-building also leads to the legitimation of institutional actors’ existence via an eclectic mix of economic, social and political actions.


The results not only guide policymakers faced with potentially conflicting demands to legitimize sustainable housing developments policy that could benefit the urban poor’s shelter needs but also to consider the interactive and dynamic processes of stakeholders’ pressures, in a highly regulated housing environment.



Cheah, C.W., Low, B. and Lee, C.K.-C. (2021), "Sustainable housing development: the legitimacy-seeking perspective", Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing, Vol. 36 No. 6, pp. 1027-1041.



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