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Exploring Organizational Identity as a Potential Process

A multiple case study on employee-oriented companies

Written by Søren Abildgaard, Florian Köhler

Paper category

Master Thesis


Business Administration>Human Resources




Master Thesis: The perspective of organizational identity For anyone who wants to understand OI as a theoretical discipline, it is important to acknowledge that there are different perspectives from which OI can be viewed. In the existing OI literature, there are four such viewpoints:-social constructivism viewpoint-social actor viewpoint-institutional viewpoint-population ecology viewpoint system and population ecology viewpoint usually adopt social constructivism and social actor viewpoint Different methods to study OI. The first two focus more on the construction of external views of internal OI based on factors such as institutional membership, while the latter two emphasize the use of internal factors as the main element of the construction of OI (for the comprehensive background of all views, please refer to Gioia et al., 2013). This has led some researchers to ignore the institutional and population ecology perspectives related to OI formation and OI changes (Gioia et al., 2013). 5 For this reason, and because our research focuses exclusively on social actor perspectives and social constructivist perspectives, this article will not give more room to the other two perspectives. On the contrary, focusing on the viewpoints of social constructivism and social actors was given further room for interpretation. From the perspective of social constructivism, OI relies on a collective shared belief and understanding of the central and relatively stable characteristics of an organization (Ravasi & Schultz, 2006). Common beliefs and understandings are reached through the process of meaning construction, in which members ask what they consider to be the core and unique characteristics of the organization (Elstak, 2008; Gioia et al., 2013; Ravasi & Schultz, 2006 ). Although it is one of the two most prominent views of OI, this view is still criticized. One of them is that this view treats OI as an extension of personal identity because it “has too much influence on the assignment of labels and meanings” (Gioia et al., 2013, p. 170), which makes it difficult to measure (Whetten, 2006). Years). From the perspective of social actors, the foundation of OI is the institutional propositions available to its members about the core, enduring, and unique elements of the organization. These propositions are constructed through a perception process in which the leader of the organization puts forward self-defining propositions on behalf of the organization. These provide members with a consistent and legal narrative to build a shared label and meaning of the organization's self. The identity statements mentioned in the perspective are considered durable because they construct labels that resist change (Gioia et al., 2013). 4.3 Identity as a process The continuous flow of identity is continuously formed by OI, so it is necessary to understand the "deep process" (the potential process common across organizations) that constitutes the formation of OI (Gioia et al., 2013). Jiao Ya et al. (2010) proposed a model of the OI formation process, which includes seemingly esoteric processes, such as "the expression of the founder's values ​​[...] and the use of via negativa" (via negativa: by answering that we are not) (Gioia et al. , 2013, p. 182). However, extensive knowledge about these deep processes and their cross-organizational applications is still limited, Gioia et al. (2013) therefore called for further research to examine these processes in more detail. 6 One reason for the lack of a better understanding of the deep processes related to OI is that the literature is beginning to explore what OI is, rather than how OI is formed; this problem has only recently emerged (Gioia et al., 2013). To our knowledge, only two studies explicitly examined OI information from a process perspective (Gioia et al., 2010; Kroezen and Heugens, 2012). The OI formation process begins before the organization is formally established (Boers & Brunninge, 2011, p. 9) and is related to the personal history (or history) (also called prehistory) of the founder (or founder) (see Boers & Brunninge) , 2011, p. 5; Kimberly and Bouchikhi, 1995, p. 17; Sarason, 1972). Based on the number of people involved in the founding, it is recommended that individuals form their own ideas (within the subject), negotiate with each other (between subjects), and then reach a general understanding of their expectations (Ashforth, Rogers & Corley, 2011). Brunninge (2009) suggests that researchers pay attention to how contemporary members of an organization relate to the history of the organization (how they understand it). He believes that this is an important determinant of individual behavior and decision-making in the organization (Brunninge, 2009, p. 9). Because members of an organization interpret themselves and their organizational history rather than how actual history happened, when members collectively reflect on the past through discussion and perceptual actions, these interpretations are socially constructed (Brunninge, 2009, p.11). ). This was supported by Gioia et al. (2010) is as follows: Another element of OI that is more deeply studied is the process of change (see Gioia et al., 2013). Gioia et al. (2000) put forward the idea that OI consists of labels and meanings, and changes in identity can be expressed in two different ways. Read Less