University of Twente Student Theses


The Legitimacy of Greenwashing of Privately Family-owned Companies vs Publicly Traded Companies

Fricke, Hannah-Frances (2023) The Legitimacy of Greenwashing of Privately Family-owned Companies vs Publicly Traded Companies.

[img] PDF
Abstract:Corporate greenwashing has emerged as a widespread phenomenon that has raised concerns about the legitimacy of companies. While existing studies have recognized the distinct legitimacy that stakeholders assign to private and public companies, less is known about the impact of perceived greenwashing and the aftermath of greenwashing scandals on this differentiation. This study endeavors to fill this knowledge void, delving into the ways these perceptions and their subsequent scandals can shape stakeholders' views of legitimacy within the context of both privately and publicly owned firms. The study employs a between-subjects design experiment with 'private' and 'publicly owned' company as between subjects factor to investigate how ownership structures affect consumers' perception of corporate green brand legitimacy in the context of the perception of greenwashing and a greenwashing scandal. Regarding the perception of greenwashing the findings reveal that ownership condition predicts green brand legitimacy, but this effect is fully mediated by consumers' perceived greenwashing. Specifically, publicly owned companies are perceived to be less legitimate due to higher levels of greenwashing. The reaction to a greenwashing scandal act as a suppressor variable, altering the relationship between ownership condition and green brand legitimacy. Stakeholders exhibit heightened sensitivity to a greenwashing scandal in publicly owned companies in which their reaction to a greenwashing scandal predicts green brand legitimacy. The findings suggest that ownership is important but only because customers insinuate that publicly owned companies make use of greenwashing. Overall, this research sheds light on the impact of ownership structures and perceived greenwashing and the reaction to a scandal on stakeholders' perceptions of corporate legitimacy. The findings contribute to the understanding of how stakeholders interpret and respond to greenwashing in the context of different ownership structures and highlight the complexities of environmental communication and its effects on stakeholders' perceptions.
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:85 business administration, organizational science
Programme:Business Administration MSc (60644)
Link to this item:
Export this item as:BibTeX
HTML Citation
Reference Manager


Repository Staff Only: item control page