Flipping the Identity Coin: The Comparative Effect of Perceived, Projected and Desired Organizational Identity on Organizational Identification and Desired Behavior Defended on Friday, 16 November 2007

It is especially during times of uncertainty or change in an organization, that a major concern for organizational management is how to elicit and maintain a high degree of identification and desired behavior from their members. Traditionally, scholars have taken a “bottom-up approach” in understanding these organizational processes, where the assumption is that members’ own, private perceptions of who their organization is, i.e. their perceived organizational identity, is the core driver of their identification and behavior. I challenge this one-sided approach of perceived organizational identity on the grounds that by focusing solely on members’ organizational identity perceptions, we disregard the “top-down approach”, i.e. the important role that management plays in setting an overall collective framework that directs and guides members in their identification and behavior. This dissertation is the first to empirically test the comparative significance of bottom-up and top-down identity types. Through three empirical studies in two different organizational settings, I study this force field between the bottom-up and top-down identity processes. My results indicate that especially during times of threat and organizational change, the role of perceived organizational identity is not nearly as prevalent as generally assumed. It is not only the perceived organizational identity in and of itself that drives identification and behavior, but also the degree to which members believe that their perceived organizational identity is consistent with the top-down determined identity types of projected and desired organizational identity. In doing so, this work takes a more integrative approach to organizational identity processes.


organizational identity, identification, social identity theory, self-categorization theory, organizational behavior, organizational change

  • Share on