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Legitimacy and Illegitimacy
Presentation by Robert Lamb, followed by discussion
19th November 2014 – Lessons in conflict and stabilisation seminar series


Decision makers often need to understand how much support or opposition an organization, operation, or policy might face. Legitimacy, according to many fields of study and practice, is something that induces voluntary support, lowers operating costs, and improves stability and sustainability. There is therefore a great deal of interest in measuring and assessing it, which is difficult, because it cannot be observed. This seminar will introduce and discuss a new multidimensional, multilevel, bilateral assessment framework that governments, businesses, organizations, scholars, and others can use when they need to better understand the sources and dynamics of support or opposition for any entity. It will briefly cover the intellectual history of the concept of legitimacy, summarise the literature (“people are motivated by what is right”), introduce a new conceptualisation of illegitimacy, and outline four types of legitimacy assessments, from a rapid to a comprehensive assessment.

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