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Organizational Identity Formation Processes: A Case Study Examining the Relationship between the Emergence of Organizational Identity Labels and the Creation and Negotiation of their Meanings Open Access

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Organizational Identity Formation Processes: A Case Study Examining the Relationship between the Emergence of Organizational Identity Labels and the Creation and Negotiation of their MeaningsThe social constructionist perspective of organizational identity (OI) is that it resides in collectively shared beliefs and understandings about central and relatively permanent features of an organization. Gioia, Schultz and Corley (2000) suggest that the content of an organization's identity consists of two tangled aspects: labels and the meanings associated with them. This qualitative case study explored the OI labels and their associated meanings of a newly established organization focused on diabetes. The research objective was to examine the relationship between the emergence of OI labels and the creation and negotiation of their meanings during the organizational identity formation processes (OIFP). Data were gathered from audio visual materials, documents, interviews, and observations. Findings demonstrated that four OI labels emerged and associated meanings were created during the OI formation processes. The OI label "not-for-profit" originated during the initial phase of development of the now-established organization and was predetermined by the State of New York and the IRS. The OI label "focused on diabetes" described the specific disease that the organization addressed. The OI label "healthcare practitioner driven" described the occupation of NEO members. The OI label "educators" described the community outreach activities NEO offered. The phrase "African American-based" and term "young," which were used at the intrasubjective level to describe the organization, did not move beyond the individual level; there was no "interchange or synthesis of two, or more, communicating selves" (Wiley, 1988, p. 258) related to these terms/phrases or their associated meanings. Conclusions offer refinements to OI theory, suggesting the utility of the two tangled aspects of the content of OIFP, the emergence of the labels and the creation and negotiation of their associated meanings, and provide a practical application to newly established organizations.

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