Exploring Cultural Mechanisms of Organizational Identity Construction

Mary Ann Glynn and Lee Watkiss

in Constructing Identity in and around Organizations

Published in print January 2012 | ISBN: 9780199640997
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191738388 | DOI:

Series: Perspectives on Process Organization Studies

Exploring Cultural Mechanisms of Organizational Identity Construction

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We explore the cultural embeddedness of organizational identity and highlight the role of cultural mechanisms in the construction of the organization’s identity claims. We conceive of an organization as a social actor who functions as a skilled cultural operative, sufficiently agentic so as to select those cultural elements that align with its internal character, but not so insensitive as to adopt those elements that are culturally inappropriate or illegitimate. By appropriating and interpreting cultural resources, the organization makes identity claims of “who we are” and “what we do.” Drawing from the organizational and social science literatures, we identify six cultural mechanisms—framing, repertoires, narrating, symbolization and symbolic boundaries, capital and status, and institutional templates—whereby organizations incorporate cultural elements into their identities and show their correspondence to identity elements.

Keywords: organizational identity; culture; cultural mechanisms

Chapter.  9662 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Organizational Theory and Behaviour

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