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Flipping the Identity Coin

14.11.2007
It is especially during times of uncertainty or change in an organization, that a major concern for organizational management is how to elicit and maintain a high degree of identification and desired behavior from their members.

The assumption is that members own, private perceptions of who their organization is, is the core driver of their identification and behavior. In her PhD thesis 'Flipping the Identity Coin: The comparative effect of perceived, projected and desired organizational identity on organizational identification and desired behavior', Mirdita Elstak challenges this one sided approach. She defends her thesis on Friday, November 16th, 2007 at the Erasmus University Rotterdam.

It is especially during times of uncertainty or change in an organization, that a major concern for organizational management is how to elicit and maintain a high degree of identification and desired behavior from their members. Traditionally, scholars have taken a bottom-up approach in understanding these organizational processes, where the assumption is that members own, private perceptions of who their organization is, i.e. their perceived organizational identity, is the core driver of their identification and behavior. In her thesis 'Flipping the identity coin', Merdita Elstak challenges this one-sided approach of perceived organizational identity on the grounds that by focusing solely on members organizational identity perceptions, we disregard the top-down approach, i.e. the important role that management plays in setting an overall collective framework that directs and guides members in their identification and behavior.

This dissertation is the first to empirically test the comparative significance of bottom-up and top-down identity types. Through three empirical studies in two different organizational settings, Elstak studies this force field between the bottom-up and top-down identity processes. Her results indicate that especially during times of threat and organizational change, the role of perceived organizational identity is not nearly as prevalent as generally assumed. It is not only the perceived organizational identity in and of itself that drives identification and behavior, but also the degree to which members believe that their perceived organizational identity is consistent with the top-down determined identity types of projected and desired organizational identity. In doing so, this work takes a more integrative approach to organizational identity processes.

The RSM Erasmus University and the Erasmus School of Economics of the Erasmus University Rotterdam have brought together their best research and best researchers within the domain of management in ERIM, Erasmus Research Institute of Management. The mission of ERIM is to contribute to scientific research that enables organizations to assess and improve their business processes in order to perform in a profitable and responsible way. The research of ERIM is directed at the management of the firm in its environment, its intra- and inter-firm relations, its business processes in their interdependent connections. The objective of ERIM is to carry out first rate research in management, as recognized by the community of peers and to offer an advanced PhD program in Management for the education of new, excellent scholars in the field. ERIM is officially accredited by the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW).

Yvette Nelen | alfa
Further information:
http://www.erim.eur.nl

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