Lessons in Fluidity: Anonymous and the Communicative Formation of Organizational Identity
University of Zurich, Department of Business Administration, UZH Business Working Paper No. 335
43 Pages Posted: 22 Jun 2013
Date Written: June 20, 2013
Most research on organizational identity tends to take an essentialist perspective, differentiating between an identity construed internally by members of the organization and an image construed by external actors. However, the duality of identity and image struggles with capturing more fluid, open, or partial organizational arrangements, where it is difficult to uphold this distinction. Looking at the case of the hacker collective Anonymous as an extreme example of organization, this paper proposes to adopt a communication-centered perspective in order to better understand the formation of organizational identity. Drawing on the emerging “communicative constitution of organizations” (CCO) framework, we transcend both an essentialist and a member-centered view by arguing that organizational identity is achieved through communicative events that demarcate the boundaries between actions attributed either to the organization or to the organizational environment.
Keywords: Anonymous, communication as constitutive of organizations (CCO), organizational communication, organizational identity, organization theory, partial organizations
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