Legitimacy Issues in Corporate Public Diplomacy

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Transnational corporations negotiate with stakeholders in host countries to
build long-term, trustworthy relationships. Such corporate diplomacy activities
aim at creating economically and socially sustainable business solutions. The
sub concept, corporate public diplomacy, refers to collaborations and negotiations directly with civic society. Based on a review of scholarly, peer-reviewed journal articles, where the authors use the term “corporate diplomacy,” this article identifies four topics of special interest for discussions on legitimacy in diplomatic processes involving civic society: (1) Who can be perceived as legitimate representatives of civic society? (2) To what extent is it legitimate for corporations to seek political power and fill government gaps in host countries as well as in international politics, considering that the public has not elected the CEOs? (3) How do transnational corporations, from an ethical perspective, handle legitimacy issues related to the many different ideologies expressed by people in the countries where they operate? and (4) How do corporations deal with disparities in power and expertise so that representatives from civic society, who generally do not have as much technical expertise and economic power, perceive the processes as well as the solutions as legitimate? Much of the literature on corporate diplomacy is either conceptual papers or macrolevel analyses of corporate behaviors in relation to world politics. So far, few case studies have been published. More case studies would be helpful in creating insight into the processes of transnational corporations’ long-term negotiations and collaboration with civic society and in locating legitimacy issues related to practice.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHandbook of Business Legitimacy : Responsibility, Ethics and Society
EditorsJacob Dahl Rendtorff
Place of PublicationCham
PublisherSpringer VS
Publication date2020
ISBN (Print)978-3-030-14621-4
ISBN (Electronic)9783319688459, 978-3-030-14622-1
Publication statusPublished - 2020

Bibliographical note

This chapter has both been published as part of the live 2019-edition of the handbook (ISBN 978-3-319-68845-9) as well as in the 2020-handbook (ISBN 978-3-030-14621-4)

This chapter has been found as a 'Free Version' from the Publisher on June 19th 2019. When the access to the chapter closes, please notify rucforsk@ruc.dk


  • Transnational corporations
  • Civic society
  • Power disparities
  • Public protests
  • Anti-corporate activism

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