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The notion of enacting change in lieu of the forces that promote institutionalization is troublesome to Institutional Theory, which generally predicts isomorphism as a condition of survival. Here, we offer borrowed legitimacy through coalitions as an explanation for how an organization might successfully deviate from social norms to enact change, yet still gain sufficient cognitive and sociopolitical legitimacy for survival. We explain that borrowing legitimacy through a coalition allows an illegitimate organization to impose an alternative future despite institutional pressures for its convergence to social norms, rules and expectations.

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This article is (c) Emerald Group Publishing and permission has been granted for this version to appear here ( Emerald does not grant permission for this article to be further copied/distributed or hosted elsewhere without the express permission from Emerald Group Publishing Limited. doi: 10.1108/IJOA-07-2014-0789