Critical Management Studies on Identity

Robyn Thomas

in The Oxford Handbook of Critical Management Studies

Published in print January 2011 | ISBN: 9780199595686
Published online September 2009 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Business and Management

Critical Management Studies on Identity

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  • Business and Management
  • Organizational Theory and Behaviour
  • Research Methods



This article aims to present some of the key debates on, and contributions of, critical work on identities. Before doing so, it is necessary to clarify that, in focusing on CMS, other bodies of work on identity in, and of, organizations are excluded. Notable exclusions include, first, work based largely on social-identity theory. This has inspired many of the functionalist studies into organizational identity, focusing on the degree to which individuals define themselves in relation to the organization, with the assumption that greater congruence between the two leads to enhanced commitment, loyalty, and motivation. The article discusses studies that have sought to analyse the interrelation of power and subjectivity in identity formation, and which are oriented towards challenge and change. It sets out some of the key tensions underpinning critical studies on identity, considering fundamental debates over the ontology of identity and of agency. These are then developed and discussed in the main body of the article, focusing firstly on issues of subjectification, identification, and identity regulation; secondly on identity resistance and dis-identification; and thirdly on crafting identities.

Keywords: interrelation of power; management studies; subjectivity; identity formation; identity regulation; organizational identity

Article.  8000 words. 

Subjects: Business and Management ; Organizational Theory and Behaviour ; Research Methods

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