Organization Identity and Its Effects


Organization identity is the degree at which an individual or organization shares aims, goals, values and desires. The altitude of organizational identification managers of a company and employees or between a group and members can be vital in the success of the company. People feel great when the performance of their company or group is in good record and the contrary happens when the performance of the company is poor1. A good example can be football teams where teams get praises. Fans feel offended when the teams perform poor and they may look quite dull. This strong tie for the team is the identification aspect of individual with a group.

Companies need to promote organization identity by taking care of desires and needs for individual fulfillment of every group member. An extreme organizational identity can also be destructive since some people may fear to blow a whistle in order to correct something wrong in the organization. Organizational identification is important to most managers of different organizations. This is because the height of can greatly influence the daily operations of the company activities and the future aspirations of the group. When employees have a strong connection to the workplace they may fail to seek employment to other competing firms and take less sick days. Such employees will work hard to achieve the goals of the company. These employees with a strong connection with a company will have to remain in the company during hard economical times. They may not seek other options of employment when the company is facing trouble. This paper intends to discuss critically organizational identity and its implications for managers, employees and organizations.

Empirical Definition

In literature, organizational identity is defined in various different ways. For instance, look at this identity as a form of cognitive relationship between people and organizations2. Examples from real world include negative reaction from oil owners after it spilt on water. There were some negative reactions from customers after Nike engaged in Sweetwater shop. This indicates that people identify themselves with organizations, which is part of strategies they form.

Organizational identification took most of the literature studies from 1960’s. It is only for the last two decades that most people have started getting interest in its implications to organizations. On the other part, Allen and Meyer define it as an orientation or attitude, which links an individual to an organization. In this context, the organization’s goals and individual goals become congruent. Chatman and O’ Reilly look at it the form of psychological bonding between the organization and an individual. According to them, the bond can take three forms. They include identification, internalization and compliance.

They reveal that identification is the ability of an individual to accept influence from an organization (group) for him to develop and sustain a relationship. In this case, an individual is bound to respect the values of the group without embracing them. This is in contrary to internalization where influence is admitted because the stimulated values or attitudes are matching with one’s. Compliance on the other hand, involves accepting of declarations since they can win something in return. The other problem concerns conceptualization of heterogeneity and measurement equipments of organizational identification. Several researches indicate various subtypes of identification.

For example, cognitive identification when put against affective identification brings great differences in results3. Cooper on his part summarizes in the same context although with some differences. He clearly identifies difference in the three concepts. He claims that the difference that exist between organizational identity and the other two (affective commitment and internalization) is self-definitional. Therefore, employees share organizational beliefs and values other than just accepting them. It has a critical implication on whether an employee should maintain his employer. In this case, identity may revolve on what the employee can define himself and the position he holds in the organization. It means that some people can commit themselves to different groups without defining themselves through its values4.

Empirical research Outcomes

Several researches carried out on organizational identity come with different hypothesis. Some of the hypotheses are proved true while others are not. Most of the researches indicate that organizational identity has a marginal effect o the attitude and knowledge employees. In most cases, organizational identity is not the only factor that employees and managers’ attitude and their knowledge. Behavior on the other side works to the opposite direction. On the contrary, of the expectations of most researches the relationship between components of organizational objectives and continuity relates negatively. Some researches show that discontinuity of organizational identity increases attitudinal, behavioral and knowledge supporting organizational objectives. For instance, Schultz and Corley (2000), propose that companies must manage change and instability. It enables companies to comply with the ever-changing business environment. In addition to that, organizational shift nourishes organizational traditions, which define the moral, legal ethical and professional boundaries in which workers manage resources flexibly5.

Recent studies illustrate how organizational identification influence employees, attitude behavior and knowledge. Some of them state that when employees have a strong identity with an organization, their behavior, knowledge and attitudes are in most cases influenced positively while some provide negative statements to this. For instance, Mael and Ashforth, 1989, Stewart and Barney, 2000, Lee, 1971 and Dutton of 1994 have the same information that support this phenomenon. They also suggest that organizational objectives promote organizational identification. They site those workers who provide support to their company through behaviors would like to identify themselves with the company. This is contrary to those who are less concerned with the organization’s performance. Employees acquire intrinsic fulfillment when they understand that their behavioral involvement is relating to the objectives of the organization. They indicate precisely that behavioral assistance can be self-rewarding and enables employees to gain personal control over the organization’s activities.

Another factor that influences employee identification with accompany is the centrality of organizational identity. There are researches that fully support this point and other researches find negative results. Mael and Asforth explain differently as compared to other research findings6.

Most researches expect that when an employee works in an organization for a long period, it increase organizational identity. This in contrarily negative that the tenure length relates to the continuity and centrality of organizational identity. The fact is that organizational identity reduces with length tenure7. This means that employees who work for long in organizations experience more changes in the organization than those who work for shorter tenures. The employees keep all the changes in their minds thus perceiving organizational identity to be as discontinue. More so, those employees who work for long in the companies develop worse perceptions for the core values their company. This can be due to the numerous changes that take place in the organization. Other results from different research contradict and give their points that when an employee works for a long period, the length of the tenure increases identity of an organization with the worker. This can be explained in the context that a positive influence of the tenure length on identification can counteract an overall decrease in centrality whereby it will cause lower identification rates8.

Limitations and Current Studies

All researches experience certain limitations in carrying out their endeavors. Most researches experience limitations in methods to use during the study. First, self-report method creates problems in assessing all variables in the current studies. This means that the use of self-report can easily provide false information to the researchers concerning their behavior and knowledge. Objective weight can be important in identifying employee behavior and knowledge to come up with new samples to authenticate the effect of organizational identity on organizational performance9.

The other limitation is that using regression analyses cannot give evidence on casuals. In this context, the theory takes the guide in all hypotheses set by the researchers on relationship casuals and rival casuals’ although they cannot be neglected. Further research must take place to get more results that are precise in most of the studies than the previous ones10.

Another challenge is on the type of organizations that carry out the research. Non-profit organizations may experience many financial problems leading to poor and shady results. They may decide to use a limited number of individuals in their research, which will automatically leave out important information. This in turn, affects the results of the research negatively. On the other hand, profit oriented organizations that carry out experiments can have other motives. For example, they might intend to make more profits using the research. This will make them use materials, which they feel that may work towards their goals. With these intentions in mind, some of the results are not to the required standards. It may provide a mixture of true and false information. For any research, it is important to make certain through proving that the results are substantial11.


There are different definitions of organizational identification. Some researches refer to it as psychological bonding between the employees and their organizations. Others look at it as cognitive recognition between people and their organizations. This comes about due to the time factor and organizations that carry out the research.

Several organizations carry out research on organizational identity of employees with their organizations or companies. It all started in earlier 1900s although it was notice to be taking the flow in the last two decades. Although people did not understand many aspects of organizational identity, it played a powerful role in providing the managers with skills unite the whole task force towards one goal in an organization12.

Many different organizations carry out research. It is quite unfortunate that the results are never the same. For instance, other research project suggests that employees develop organizational identity when they serve in a company for a long period. Others come and oppose the research finding by providing a parallel suggestion to the earlier findings. This means that all the researches must be put to test first to justify the authenticity of their results. This calls for current researchers to involve more intelligence than the ancient procedures to find the faults in the researches13.

It is also important to note that most of the researches experience different types of limitations during their work. For example, it is clear that some organizations are out to make profits. In this context, they will use either cheap method to or cut off expenses thus releasing poor quality work. This is to increase the profit margin of the organization. There are other dedicated research organizations, which are out to provide substantial results. The only problem with such organizations can be funds. This leads the organization to deal with the amount of capital it has thus may leave out important information that affects their results14.


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  3. Ashforth, Blake E., and Fred Mael. “Social identity theory and the organization.” Academy of Management Review 14 (1), (2006). 20-39.
  4. Barney, Jay B., and Alice C. Stewart. “Organizational identity as moral philosophy: competitive implications for diversified corporations.” Academy of Management Review 14 (1), (2000). 33.
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  9. Mary Jo Hatch., & Mogens H. Larsen. The expressive organization. New York: Oxford University Press, 2004.