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Paper info: Network legitimacy in technology sustainability: a case of semi-conductor


Network legitimacy in technology sustainability: a case of semi-conductor


Stephanie Cheah Kay Ann, Brian Low and Paul Yeow Heng Ping

Place of Publication

The paper was published at the 33rd IMP-conference in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in 2017.


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There is no one theory of sustainability. Instead, a combination of theories have been used to explain and comprehend what constitute sustainability and more importantly how it is constructed. Combining network and institutional theory and focusing on legitimacy as the central construct, this study seeks to understand and explain business sustainability in the research context of Malaysia’s semiconductor sector. This is achieved by analysing the development and evolution of business sustainability in terms of the interactional relationships between key economic, social and political actors from a network legitimacy perspective. The study combines meso-level studies of these relationships with macro-level accounts of institutional contexts. It uses case study as the research methodology, through a series of semi-structured interviews with identifiable key network actors, combined with extensive content analysis of published materials. Preliminary findings show that sustainability viewed in the semiconductor sector is closely associated as value-adding to the value chain: i.e. to solve an inherent problem with the current status quo. To add value to the semiconductor ecosystem, investment in new product development builds on semiconductor technology. Legitimacy seen in terms of this context is manufacturing-driven rather than project-based. There is a need to constantly build and/or mend business relationships amongst the actors due to the prolonged business relationships in comparison with project-based which is less immediate and shorter term. The increase of direct contact and business exchange between business and political actors becomes of utmost importance because it grants manufacturers legitimacy through trust and commitment.