Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Semester of Degree Completion


Thesis Director

Matthew J. Gill


Previous research on organizational legitimacy has determined that legitimacy is necessary for organizational survival, but also places a constraint upon the organization's actions. This project examines the roles of authenticity and social identity as constraints of legitimacy in the craft beer through a case study of four craft breweries that merged with Anheuser-Busch InBev. This study examined the social media communication of four craft breweries prior to their merger announcement as well as the reactions from fans after the announcements were made. Analysis revealed that the breweries used social media to emphasize their authenticity prior to the merger announcement and to reaffirm it through a crisis response strategy after fans began to react negatively to the news of the sale. Theoretical and practical implications for organizations that rely on authenticity to determine legitimacy are discussed, and recommendations for future research are presented.