Between Narration and Interaction: Situating First-Line Supervisor Identity Work

Down, S. and Reveley, J. (2009) ‘Between narration and interaction: Situating first-line supervisor identity work’, Human Relations 62(3): 379–401.

26 Pages Posted: 12 Aug 2014

See all articles by Simon Down

Simon Down

Anglia Ruskin University

James Reveley

University of Wollongong - Faculty of Business (BUS)

Date Written: September 26, 2008

Abstract

This article examines how frontline managers establish managerial identities. It combines narrational and Goffmanesque conceptions of managerial identity work in a longitudinal study of one first-line supervisor at a restructured Australian industrial plant. We argue that, singly, neither self-narration nor dramaturgical performance accounts for the practical discursive work that constructs managerial ‘identity’. We demonstrate that frontline manager identity work is an iterative process in which self-narration and dramaturgical performance are almost seamlessly interwoven. The supervisor uses these different identity work stratagems simultaneously, and they are processually co-dependent. We conclude, therefore, that organizational scholars who study how persons construct managerial identities should take Goffman’s dramaturgical perspective more seriously. It is an indispensible complement to the analysis of identity narratives, because successful performances undergird managers’ attempts to craft stable narrative identities.

Keywords: supervisors, identity work, organizational change, interaction, narratives, dramaturgy

Suggested Citation

Down, Simon and Reveley, James, Between Narration and Interaction: Situating First-Line Supervisor Identity Work (September 26, 2008). Down, S. and Reveley, J. (2009) ‘Between narration and interaction: Situating first-line supervisor identity work’, Human Relations 62(3): 379–401., Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2478735

Simon Down (Contact Author)

Anglia Ruskin University ( email )

East Road
Cambridge CB1 1PT
United Kingdom

James Reveley

University of Wollongong - Faculty of Business (BUS) ( email )

Building 40A, Level 2
NSW, 2522
Australia
42214626 (Phone)
42272785 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.cleverlink.com.au/mgmt/profile.cgi?.i=jreveley

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