• Dorothea BaurEmail author
Part of the Issues in Business Ethics book series (IBET, volume 36)


This chapter assesses what measures liberalism and deliberative democracy deem appropriate for judging the legitimacy of NGOs. In line with what has been said in Chapter 8, liberalism tends to make the legitimacy of NGOs as political actors either dependent on structural features like their involvement in formal decision-making procedures, e.g. in elections. Alternatively, the contractual strand of liberalism advocates a substantive notion of legitimacy by defining those interests and principles that no one could reasonably reject as a basis for standards of legitimacy. Yet, the assumption that there are such interests and principles is again challenged by the postnational constellation. Within deliberative democracy we can distinguish between epistemic conceptions of legitimacy which focus on the legitimate outcomes of deliberation, and procedural conceptions which focus on the intrinsic fairness of deliberation as a procedure. With respect to judging the legitimacy of NGOs as actors who engage in deliberation with corporations, it is argued that a moderately procedural notion is most appropriate. An exclusive reliance on outcomes when judging whether the actions of NGOs vis-à-vis corporations are legitimate would presume that there is a substantive notion of the common good which all people affected could accept as a best outcome of deliberation. Such a presumption includes a danger of elitism. Yet, particularly in the context of NGO legitimization in their interaction with corporations it is important that less powerful groups are granted access to public debates.


Procedural conceptions of legitimacy Epistemic conceptions of legitimacy Outcome-oriented perspective on NGO-business partnerships 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of St. Gallen, Institute for Business EthicsSt. GallenSwitzerland

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