Original Research

Critically problematising existing organisational identity theory against practice: Part 2 – Organisational identity-in-action

Theo H. Veldsman, Dieter Veldsman
SA Journal of Industrial Psychology | Vol 46 | a1800 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajip.v46i0.1800 | © 2020 Theo H. Veldsman, Dieter Veldsman | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 17 March 2020 | Published: 29 October 2020

About the author(s)

Theo H. Veldsman, Department Of Industrial Psychology and People Management, College of Management and Economic, University of Johannesburg, Johannesburg, South Africa
Dieter Veldsman, Department Of Industrial Psychology and People Management, College of Management and Economic, University of Johannesburg, Johannesburg, South Africa


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Abstract

Orientation: Organisations are embedded in an emerging world of work that is changing both radically and fundamentally. This context is forcing them to consider deeper issues, such as who are we? and why do we exist?

Research purpose: To critically review the power of the extant OI literature, with a view to providing deep insight into practice, based on the findings resulting from an OI intervention in a major global South African organisation. The aim is to critically problematise the current OI literature from a practice point of view. Part 2 of our article covers the here-and-now dynamics of OI, its evolution and change over time as well as OI-related outcomes, before concluding with the implications – for OI practice and theory – of our problematising review.

Motivation for the study: In the world of work, organisational identity (OI) has become critically important as a secure and referent anchor.

Research approach/design and method: Unconventional grounded theory was utilised. We moved the data generated from the lived, enacted experiences of participants to existing theory and then used the generated findings to question OI theory by validating, in an exploratory manner, the existing OI theory to expose the strengths, weaknesses and blind spots of the current literature from a practice/practitioner, power-of-understanding vantage point.

Main Findings: From a practice perspective, the OI literature was highly relevant, robust and valid in making sense of, and giving meaning to, what was observed during the OI intervention. Practice-wise, however, a number of significant weaknesses were also uncovered.

Practical/managerial implications: The OI literature – with the uncovered weaknesses rectified – can assist greatly in strengthening OI work in practice.

Contribution/value-add: Theoretical and practical recommendations were made to strengthen the existing OI literature from a practice perspective.


Keywords

grounded theory; individual social identity; organisational identity; practice-problematised theory; qualitative research.

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