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The Evolution of Organizational Identity Claims and the Role of Commemoration and History in a Family-Owned Business Open Access

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,Abstract of DissertationThe Evolution of Organizational Identity Claims and the Roleof Commemoration and History in a Family-Owned Business This qualitative case study focused on the two constructs of organization identity, i.e., features that are core, distinctive, and enduring (Albert & Whetten, 1985; Whetten, 2006), and collective memory, specifically history and commemoration as defined by Schwartz (2000). The study examined how the features of organizational identity were commemorated over time in a 52-year-old family-owned business by analyzing official histories as well as conducting interviews, focus groups, and observation. A cohort approach to gathering the data was used, with cohorts defined by the decade when employees started to work for the organization (Ryder, 1965). This study provides information on how organizations continue to examine their identity throughout their life cycle. The key findings in relation to organizational identity showed that the core, distinctive, and enduring (CDE) features of the firm did not change. Data analysis revealed the CDE features across all cohort groups as follows: care of employees, client focus, diverse capabilities, family-owned business, growth, integrity, land development, and quality. Findings also linked history and commemoration with organizational identity by showing how they helped to shape the identity of the firm. The influence of the founder and the feeling of "family" were also strong features of the organization's identity and indicated that the organization's identity can be considered a "hybrid identity" (Gersick, Davis, Hampton, & Lansberg, 1997;Golden-Biddle & Rao, 1997; Foreman & Whetten, 2002; Corley & Gioia, 2004).Key words: Organizational identity, collective memory, family-owned business, hybrid identity

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