Identities and Identity Work in Organizations

21 Pages Posted: 7 Jan 2015

See all articles by Andrew D. Brown

Andrew D. Brown

University of Bath - School of Management

Date Written: January 2015


Identities, people's subjectively construed understandings of who they were, are and desire to become, are implicated in, and thus key to understanding and explaining, almost everything that happens in and around organizations. The research contribution that this review paper makes is threefold. First, it analyses the often employed but rarely systematically explored concept ‘identity work’, and argues that it is one metaphor among many that may be useful in the analysis of professional and more generally work identities. Second, it focuses on five fundamental, interconnected debates in contemporary identities research centred on notions of choice, stability, coherence, positivity and authenticity. Third, it outlines the roles that the concept ‘identity work’ may play in bridging levels of analysis and disciplinary boundaries, and sketches some possible future identities‐focused ideas for further research. Under‐specification has meant that ‘identity’ has not always fulfilled its analytical promise in either theoretical explorations of identities issues or in empirical studies of identities in practice; and it is to these ends that this paper seeks to contribute.

Suggested Citation

Brown, Andrew D., Identities and Identity Work in Organizations (January 2015). International Journal of Management Reviews, Vol. 17, Issue 1, pp. 20-40, 2015, Available at SSRN: or

Andrew D. Brown (Contact Author)

University of Bath - School of Management ( email )

Claverton Down
Bath, BA2 7AY
United Kingdom

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