Practicing Identity: A Process Model of Identity Change Management in Organizations
35 Pages Posted: 19 May 2003
Date Written: January 2003
In this paper, we build on a longitudinal study of three different attempts at managing identity change within the same organization over a period of 25 years. The purpose of the paper is to develop an interpretative model that investigates how organizations may promote periodic renewal and redefinition of identity claims, while preserving at the same time a sense of continuity. We argue that continuity in organizational identity may rest on collective practices that form the distinctive competencies of the organization, while adaptation takes place as managers periodically select a subset of values, consistent with external expectations and contingent strategic factors. Evidence from our study suggests that selection does not only mirror external perceptions, but is also driven by a reflection on the collective heritage and the distinctive practices of the organization. The emerging framework is underpinned by the argument that the formation and dynamics of organizational identity rest on the interplay between the domains of social cognition and social practice. Most research on organizational identity has been conducted in universities, hospitals or other public organizations: ours is a rare case of research on identity change in a business firm. Potential implications of the nature of the research setting on our results are discussed in the conclusions.
Keywords: Organizational identity, organizational image, strategic change, core competences
JEL Classification: M14, M19, M39
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation