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Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes: Turn and face the strange - Struggles of identity work in organisational change

Carstairs, Sigrid LU and Lindeberg, Victor LU (2016) BUSN49 20161
Department of Business Administration
Abstract
In today’s fast moving business environment, organisational change is considered a key requisite to remain competitive, however, organisational change can be a double-edged sword as it can create difficulties for individuals in their identity work carried out in the organisation. Moreover, how individuals conduct their identity work in an organisation can amongst other factors be affected by discourse. Previous studies have highlighted the importance of organisational identification in order for individuals to make sense of organisational change, and several researchers have explored the challenges that can arise when there is an established organisational identity in place when seeking to change, as well as moving from one organisational... (More)
In today’s fast moving business environment, organisational change is considered a key requisite to remain competitive, however, organisational change can be a double-edged sword as it can create difficulties for individuals in their identity work carried out in the organisation. Moreover, how individuals conduct their identity work in an organisation can amongst other factors be affected by discourse. Previous studies have highlighted the importance of organisational identification in order for individuals to make sense of organisational change, and several researchers have explored the challenges that can arise when there is an established organisational identity in place when seeking to change, as well as moving from one organisational identity to another. However, there is a need for more empirical studies as no previous studies have explored what occurs when moving from an eviscerated organisational identity to an unestablished one. Therefore, our purpose is to explore how a specific organisational change unfolds when there is no established and no envisioned, organisational identity. To investigate this, we chose an interpretative research paradigm and a qualitative research design, whilst taking a reflexive perspective throughout our research. Based within the borders of existing studies on organisational change, organisational discourse, identity and identity work we explore a specific research context, under the pseudonym of Jewellery Co, a leading Swedish retail chain. We followed the organisation for six months during a substantial change process and collected our material through semi-structured interviews, observations, auto-ethnography and by analysing audiovisual materials. We found that within this context, the organisational subcultures became highly dominant, to the degree that the organisational identity was not allowed to emerge, and the individual identity became submerged within the subcultural one. Moreover, we found three dominant discourses which were competing with each other, further enforcing the subcultural dominance. As the organisation under investigation does not have an established organisational identity, or an envisioned one, it creates further challenges in terms of organisational identification, again leading the individuals to identify with the subcultures. Our main finding from this research is that when seeking organisational change, it is important to not underestimate the value of values. If there are no values to identify with, it creates a substantial challenge, if not an impossible one, to manage to change anything at all. Values constitute the organisations very core and what organisational identity is. Organisational members need something persuasive to rally behind, otherwise, it is likely that the change will fail before it even completely begins. (Less)
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@misc{8877729,
  abstract     = {In today’s fast moving business environment, organisational change is considered a key requisite to remain competitive, however, organisational change can be a double-edged sword as it can create difficulties for individuals in their identity work carried out in the organisation. Moreover, how individuals conduct their identity work in an organisation can amongst other factors be affected by discourse. Previous studies have highlighted the importance of organisational identification in order for individuals to make sense of organisational change, and several researchers have explored the challenges that can arise when there is an established organisational identity in place when seeking to change, as well as moving from one organisational identity to another. However, there is a need for more empirical studies as no previous studies have explored what occurs when moving from an eviscerated organisational identity to an unestablished one. Therefore, our purpose is to explore how a specific organisational change unfolds when there is no established and no envisioned, organisational identity. To investigate this, we chose an interpretative research paradigm and a qualitative research design, whilst taking a reflexive perspective throughout our research. Based within the borders of existing studies on organisational change, organisational discourse, identity and identity work we explore a specific research context, under the pseudonym of Jewellery Co, a leading Swedish retail chain. We followed the organisation for six months during a substantial change process and collected our material through semi-structured interviews, observations, auto-ethnography and by analysing audiovisual materials. We found that within this context, the organisational subcultures became highly dominant, to the degree that the organisational identity was not allowed to emerge, and the individual identity became submerged within the subcultural one. Moreover, we found three dominant discourses which were competing with each other, further enforcing the subcultural dominance. As the organisation under investigation does not have an established organisational identity, or an envisioned one, it creates further challenges in terms of organisational identification, again leading the individuals to identify with the subcultures. Our main finding from this research is that when seeking organisational change, it is important to not underestimate the value of values. If there are no values to identify with, it creates a substantial challenge, if not an impossible one, to manage to change anything at all. Values constitute the organisations very core and what organisational identity is. Organisational members need something persuasive to rally behind, otherwise, it is likely that the change will fail before it even completely begins.},
  author       = {Carstairs, Sigrid and Lindeberg, Victor},
  keyword      = {Organisational Change Organisational Discourse Identity Work Organisational Identification Organisational Subcultures Identity Planned Organisational Change Values Subcultural Dominance Identity loop Culture and Identity Discourse Self-doubters Soldiers Surfers},
  language     = {eng},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  title        = {Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes: Turn and face the strange - Struggles of identity work in organisational change},
  year         = {2016},
}