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Understanding Organizational Identification Processes of Women Employed in National Security Agencies in the United States Open Access

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Much has been written in the last 25 years on organizational identification and social identity theory, or how one may see himself or herself in relation to a specific group (Ashforth & Mael, 1989). Much is still to be learned, however, about the process through which identification occurs. This study advances the understanding of the organizational identification process by expanding upon a current process model of organizational identification (Ashforth, Harrison, & Corley, 2008). This study examined the process of women's identification with a national security organization where secrecy is a key component of the organization's mission. The research methodology was portraiture, which allowed for the authentic voice of the participants to be heard as well as an opportunity for the researcher to creatively express the participants' lived experiences. Three women were interviewed three times regarding their backgrounds, their choice of employment paths, and their coming to a sense of identification with their national security organization. The study confirmed that antecedents to public service (personal history and prosocial values) influenced the participants' employment decisions; that similarly experienced organizational identity claims (image, core values, mission) contributed to the organizational identification process; that job fit and satisfaction were the most influential factors in their organizational identification process; and that the requirement of secrecy had no influence on the identification process. The process model was expanded to include the influence of antecedents, the role of conflict resolution, and the participants' frame of reference from within the organization.

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