Legitimacy building and e-commerce platform development in China: The experience of Alibaba

Jooyoung Kwak, Yue Zhang, Jiang Yu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

51 Citations (Scopus)


Although existing studies have connected the emergence and development of e-commerce with infrastructure, culture, and regulations, we approach technological and platform acceptance from the perspective of legitimacy building. In our study, legitimacy is categorized into market, relational, and social legitimacy, and the link between each type of legitimacy and acceptance is explored. We select the case of Alibaba and argue that Alibaba was especially competent in building legitimacy. Alibaba's continuous efforts to build legitimacy facilitated platform evolution despite its exposed weakness in intellectual property rights. These efforts rendered Alibaba as a de facto standard e-business model. This research suggests that any firm that wants market acceptance for its platform or e-commerce technology should focus more on building legitimacy among stakeholders than on anything else.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)115-124
Number of pages10
JournalTechnological Forecasting and Social Change
Publication statusPublished - 2019 Feb

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors would like to thank the support from National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 71704173 , No. 71373256 ) and Yonsei Challenge Program (No. 2015-22-0158 ).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 Elsevier Inc.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Business and International Management
  • Applied Psychology
  • Management of Technology and Innovation


Dive into the research topics of 'Legitimacy building and e-commerce platform development in China: The experience of Alibaba'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this