Unhealthy Paradoxes of Healthy Identities

32 Pages Posted: 24 Oct 2003

See all articles by S.J. Magala

S.J. Magala

Erasmus Research Institute of Management (ERIM)

Date Written: December 2003 9,


Comparative cross-cultural studies and identity research in social psychology focused onnational and organizational differences, clashes and dimensions (Hofstede, Barsoux &Schneider, Jackson, Ward, Bochner & Furnham, Capoza & Brown). Mapping cultural softwareof individuals and dynamics of small groups was supposed to provide additional managerialknowledge and skills indispensable for global expansion of stable organizational bureaucracies.However, social constructivists and critical social scientists have also exposed a contingentnature of managerial skills in complex and chaotic environments and demonstratedarbitrariness of sense-making in organizations (cf. Weick, Hatch). Increasing frequency ofindividual interactions and accelerated evolution of organizational forms drew attention ofresearch communities to the unhealthy (irrational, pathological) paradoxes of what used to beconsidered healthy organizational identities (Alvesson, de Vries, Gabriel, Carr). Problems ofidentity and identization (cf. Honneth, Sievers, van Riel) acquired growing significance viewedagainst the background of three paradoxes. First, managerial ideologies call for flexiblenetworks of empowered individuals, but managerialist ideologies tacitly support hierarchiccontrol. Second, there is no sustainable "fit" between new psychologized individualism andevolving "organizationalism" (Leinberger & Tucker). Robust identities and sustainable fit arecontinually challenged by unhealthy shadows of authoritarian "psychostructures" and dominantforms of organizationalism (Negri, Melucci, Stehr, Beck). Third, emergent alliances in social andmanagerial sciences have not succeeded yet in changing the methodological and ethicallandscape of research in order to challenge dominant modes of organizing, social embeddingand self-reflection. Such a shift could offer insights into the unhealthy paradoxes of healthyidentities assumed by functionalists and criticized by constructivists, contingency theoreticiansand evolutionists (Abrahamsson, Boje,Featherstone, Clark & Fincham, Denzin & Lincoln).

Keywords: identity, identization, individualism, organizationalism, qualitative paradigms

JEL Classification: M, M10, L2

Suggested Citation

Magala, Slawomir J., Unhealthy Paradoxes of Healthy Identities (December 2003 9,). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=451056

Slawomir J. Magala (Contact Author)

Erasmus Research Institute of Management (ERIM)

P.O. Box 1738
3000 DR Rotterdam

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