Organizational Identity Expressiveness and Perception Management Defended on Friday, 11 January 2008
It is especially during the past decade that stakeholders have become extremely heedful of organizations and their activities. A dominant organizational response of companies to this development is to express their organizational identity, in terms of who they are, what they stand for, what they do and why they do it. Expressing an organizational identity is a difficult process in which organizations have to explain a myriad of identity characteristics through various messages and to a variety of stakeholders, all with different and sometimes conflicting interests in the organization. This dissertation addresses the question of how to manage the complexity of these expressions as effectively as possible. Based on three empirical studies, insight is provided into how organizational identity expressions can play a role in managing external stakeholders’ perceptions of and behavioral reactions toward an organization. Three main research findings emerge. First, stakeholders do value organizational identity expressions – the findings show that stakeholders who are exposed to organizational identity expressions form more positive perceptions of and behavioral reactions toward a company than stakeholders who are not exposed to such expressions. Second, managers can increase the effectiveness of their expressions by orchestrating them along four principles: Distinctiveness, Consistency, Sincerity and Transparency. Concrete tactics are offered that can be used to manage each of the four principles. Third, stakeholders positively pick up on these principles because they enable them to 1) make sense of an organization’s identity expressions, 2) enhance their confidence in attributing the expressed identity to the organization and 3) elicit positive perceptions of and behavioral reactions toward the company. These findings enrich scholars’ understanding of how and why organizational identity expressions are important for external stakeholders - something that scholars had so far hinted at, but had hardly investigated empirically. Managers may benefit from this study because it offers concrete principles and tactics that they can use in managing their organizational identity expressions effectively.
organizational identity expressions, perception management, reputation management, corporate branding, corporate communication, strategisch management