This paper examines the emergence and effects of multiple identities in organizations. Organizational identity is typically described as that which is central, enduring, and distinctive about an organization, including its core values, culture, routines, and products. As such, the identity of an organization represents a socially constructed meaning system, which is used by its members to make sense of their existence within the organization. In this paper, we argue that in organizations with diverse membership, identity may not be as stable as generally proposed. Instead diversity in terms of members’ backgrounds and interests may lead to the emergence of multiple identities on the individual and group levels of analysis that simultaneously corroborate and contend with each other. The potential tensions between different identities may lead to changes in how members understand their organization, hence changing the organizational identity over time. While the existence of multiple identities may be perceived as a threat to the organization’s identity, this paper proposes that the multiplicity of identities will have both positive and negative effects on the functioning of the organization. The paper concludes with implications of this research for theory and the management of diversity in organizations.
|Keywords:||Organizational Identity, Diversity in Organizations, Identification, Multiple Identities|
Assistant Professor, Organizational Behaviour and Industrial Relations, Schulich School of Business, York University, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Doctoral Candidate, Schulich School of Business, York University, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
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