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Testing a scale to measure food business legitimacy

Inman, Ruth Irene
A well-developed body of knowledge exists about how small businesses can achieve legitimacy, but the canon of literature is profoundly lacking tangible information about the criteria for legitimacy in the food sector. The purpose of this study was to test, extend, and validate the Johnson and Dibrell legitimacy scale (Johnson, Dibrell, Holcomb, & Craig, 2007), which seeks to operationalize a scale to measure legitimacy forms and legitimating strategies of food businesses. This study employed a quantitative research design to address the three research objectives for this study. Data for this study were collected with a questionnaire instrument administered on the Internet to a sample of food processors and manufacturers who have worked with the Robert M. Kerr Food & Agricultural Products Center in Oklahoma. Statistical analyses, including descriptive statistics, principal components analysis, and tests of validity and reliability were applied to: a) use the Johnson and Dibrell legitimacy scale to measure the extent to which participating firms engage in behaviors related to legitimacy forms and legitimating strategies, b) evaluate to what extent factors of the Johnson and Dibrell legitimacy scale instrument explain the variance in the pattern of relationships among items, and c) evaluate reliability and validity of the Johnson and Dibrell legitimacy scale instrument. Findings indicated respondents' firms were more likely to engage conformance strategies and behaviors related to regulatory legitimacy and less likely to engage in manipulation and selection strategies than other legitimating strategies and legitimacy forms. Data from this study reveal nine components contributed to 79.95% of the explained variance in the pattern of relationships among the items, and coefficient values for five of the components exceeded the widely-accepted alpha threshold of .70.