Original Research

Negotiating work identity

Tamsen Saayman, Anne Crafford
SA Journal of Industrial Psychology | Vol 37, No 1 | a963 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajip.v37i1.963 | © 2011 Tamsen Saayman, Anne Crafford | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 07 February 2011 | Published: 07 November 2011

About the author(s)

Tamsen Saayman, University of Johannesburg, South Africa
Anne Crafford, University of Johannesburg, South Africa


Orientation: The study explored the dynamics of work identity negotiation and construction.

Research purpose: The aim of the study was to investigate identity tensions and demands that mobilise identity work in the work environment.

Motivation for the study: The study hoped to improve the understanding of the dynamics of identity construction and negotiation.

Research design, approach and method: Using grounded theory methodology in the context of qualitative field research, the researchers conducted two unstructured interviews with 28 employees of a South African manufacturing company.

Main findings: The five primary dimensions the data yielded were personal identity, individual agency, social identity, social practice and job.

Practical/managerial implications: This study has implications for organisations that want to improve productivity through understanding work identity.

Contribution/value-add: The article presents a conceptual model of the demands and tensions that influence work identity.


Identity; work identity; identity work; identity negotiation


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