Research projects

LegiP – Legitimizing Intersectoral Partnerships: Actor strategies in the institutional complexity of state, business and civil society.
Intersectoral partnerships are collaborative arrangements in which actors from different sectors of society (state, business, civil society) share resources and information to work on societal problems with common goals. A key driver of the proliferation of these forms of governance is the assumption that partners with different sectoral backgrounds have different resources and capabilities, and societal problems are more effectively solved when these complementarities are leveraged with the goal of creating economic, social, and environmental value.

In previous research, a structural perspective on the conditions for the emergence and success, the design, and the effects of intersectoral partnerships predominates. In contrast, an interactionist perspective on the micro-level of individual actors working together in the partnerships is still underdeveloped. These actors are not passive recipients of the different sectoral frameworks and expectation structures of the state, business and civil society, but can actively and strategically confront them for the purpose of securing legitimacy. The legitimacy of intersectoral partnerships is in need of investigation insofar as their success depends not only on their functional efficiency but also on their social legitimacy, but their institutional ambiguity makes them a diffuse unit of attribution of legitimacy.

Our research project contributes to a theoretical and empirical understanding of the individual level of actors in intersectoral partnerships and to their
interrelationship with superordinate organizational and sectoral contexts. In the foreground are the following research questions:

How are the sectoral logics of state, business, and civil society, and the organizational logics of public, private, and nonprofit organizations reflected in identity claims and interpretive patterns of actors working together in intersectoral partnerships?
What strategies of action do actors use to confront the potentially conflicting logics of their sectors and organizations?
How do actors’ action strategies affect the emergence and safeguarding of internal and external legitimacy of the partnership, and what is the dynamic interrelationship between this internal and external legitimacy?

We use the concept of institutional logic developed in sociological institutionalism as a theoretical framework. The research project follows
a process-oriented case study design and examines trisectoral partnerships in three in-depth case studies.



Cooperation partner

Prof. Dr. Markus Göbel
Prof. Dr. Christiana Weber
Prof. Dr. Rick Vogel

Project Collaborator

Barbara Herbert M.Sc.

Third-party funding

German Research Foundation (DFG)


Letzte Änderung: 25. November 2021