The initial public offering process involves a restructuring of a firm’s identity and image. In this paper we explore how the images presented by firms in their prospectus are shaped by the networks of relationships these firms maintain to each other and to the stakeholders of the IPO process. In the absence of direct experience with entrepreneurial firms, most financial institutions and advisors who evaluate an initial public offering (IPO) on behalf of their clients must rely on images that convey information about the relevant attributes a legitimate publicly held firm should possess (Pollock & Rindova, 2003). Image is the symbolic representation of an organization (Alvesson, 1990) and an important strategic tool through which managers can communicate select aspects of organizational identity to their stakeholders that shape perceptions of legitimacy (Elsbach, 1994; Lamertz, Heugens, & Calmet, 2005). In the case of a firm issuing an IPO, the prospectus is a focal example of interest, a written document that is created in order to present a favourable image of an enterprise about to go public. The representation of such an IPO firm image constitutes a difficult challenge because the emerging public enterprise faces a new and unfamiliar field of stakeholders, institutional constraints, and resourc
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