Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name


Organizational Unit

Daniels College of Business

First Advisor

Daniel W. Baack

Second Advisor

Ali Besharat

Third Advisor

Andrew K. Schnackenberg


Legitimacy, Symbolic environments, Symbolic management, Trust


People have historically used different types of symbols to signal an ideology, to create a sense of prestige, or to gain legitimacy. Examples of these types of symbols can be seen in displays ranging from marketing ads to presidential election materials. While these types of symbols tend to be socially constructed, and universally identifiable, the consequences of their use are less uniform in nature. This study explores the gap that currently exists between a symbol’s inherent value and the expected consequences of its use. My theoretical prediction includes two principles: The use of symbolic management to create symbolic environments and the concept of mental fit between the symbol displayed and the personal values of the symbol observer. I test this link through the creation and viewing of video vignettes containing specific types of symbolic value. Using a sample of university students, I find that viewing an ideological symbolic environment that matches the symbolic environment architect’s political ideology elicits higher levels of affect-based trust. Additionally, I find that comparative symbolic environments elicit higher levels of pragmatic legitimacy compared to environments containing isomorphic symbolic value.

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. User is responsible for all copyright compliance.

Rights Holder

Christopher J. Thomas


Received from ProQuest

File Format




File Size

110 pgs


Business administration