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You like many other business graduates have a experience at annual dinners of alumni or at convocation or at any public meeting. The experience is about your interactions with class/session fellows and during that interactions there is high likelihood that you have to answer the question; "for which organization you work". If you subsequently tell who your employer is and conversation swings almost straight away in a different direction, then it might indicates that organization have near to the ground worth. However, if people expresses positive reception and keep talking about the organization, then might suggest that the organization is highly valued. Compare the information received from outsiders of the organization to what you as insider of the organization believe the organization stands for. When an employer is viewed favorably by insiders and by outsiders, members of organization probably enhances their self-esteem and organization's identification is likely to be strong.
From this experience, the issue arises: What organizational identity is all about and how members' evaluation of the organizational identity based on their own self identity and as a comparison between members' perceptions of what organizational current identity is with what they would prefer the identity to be? How one can to make differentiation and distinction between concepts like organizational image, corporate identity, and organizational reputation that have made the concept of organizational identity more multifaceted.
There are few terms and ideas are being brought into play so enormously without recognizing the authentic sense and comprehension of that term and in each juncture one presents a contrasting, conflicting and debatable interpretation of the term; for instance, "Identity". Those who write on identity use it unceremoniously; they take for granted that reader will know what they mean but most of time it would find problematic to put in plain words just writers do mean by "Identity". Identity word has come form the Latin root, idem, the same, and has been used in English since sixteenth century. The concept of identity has links in different fields like psychology, anthropology and sociology but it is used in social sciences very late as original encyclopedia of social science published in early 1930, carries no entry at all for identity. In Oxford English Dictionary, the definition of identity is:
"The sameness of a person or thing at all times or in all circumstances, the condition or fact that a person or thing is itself and not something else".
Identity has been researched at the level of individual from the perspective of development psychology, psychodynamics and social psychology as well as the level of group from different standpoints that scrutinize collective identity based on gender, race, ethnicity and nationality (Chreim, 2000). The emergent research work of identity in dissimilar perspective has encouraged theorists of organizational milieu to submit an application of this notion in organization level. In organization literature, Albert and Whetten were considered pioneer in developing and promulgating the concept of organization identity. Both called attention to that organization, like individual, also have identity. They defined organizational identity as: "Organizational identity is that which is central, enduring and distinctive about an organization (Albert and Whetten, 1985). The other definitions of organizational identity states that it reflects an organization's central and distinguishing attributes - including its core values, organizational culture, modes of performance and product (Elsbach and Kramer, 1996) or it refers to a collective, commonly share understanding of the organization's distinctive values and characteristic (Hatch and Schulz, 2002).
The centrality constituent of CED (central, enduring and distinctive) definition of organizational identity stipulates that central organizational attributes are most competent to satisfy a member's identity requirement of being readily recognized by all interested parties. If something is not central characteristic of an organization, then sensibly talking, it is most likely to be called as distinguishing feature and then it will be unsuccessful for outside the sphere of influence specified for organizational identity. This component directs members to know indispensable acquaintance about their organization and its central attributes.
The enduring constituent of CED definition legitimates identity's pronounces of those organizational elements that have endured the test of time. People entrust to their deepest remembrance the things that they dare not to forget. Saying the same otherwise, organizations deliberately bring about their central and distinguishing features preserving for tomorrow what has made them what and/or they are today.
The distinctive aspect of the definition is the core of identity. As by definition of Oxford American Dictionary, identity of a person makes distinctive from others. If organization does not have distinctive attributes, then the sustainable competitive advantage can't be achieved and it is also attribute of strategic steadiness that an organization should be as dissimilar as reasonably achievable. The uniqueness of organization is because human capacities invariably fused into a discernible identity. Organizational identity is the member's shared answer to the question 'who are we as organization'. To inspire the members for the accomplishment of organizational objectives and goals, there is need that organization maintains continuity in its identity over past, present and future and be idiosyncratic.
Complexities with Organizational Identity
The concept of organizational identity becomes wobbly and inconsistent because its multipart interrelationship with different concepts likes organizational image, reputation and corporate identity. Organizational identity is self referential. Organizational identity is about the organization communicating to itself "Who are we"?, Corporate identity or image by contract involves the projection of identity-related notions to external audience and reputation is often conceptualization as how those audience view the organization or it is the environment feedback to the organization on its projected image. To make the distinction between identity, image and reputation it is important that one has to know different identities and images exist within organizational context. Different Identities proposed by Balmer and Greyser are called AC2ID Test Model. Actual Identity (The actual identity constitutes the current attributes of the organization.), Communicated Identity (The communicated identity is most dearly revealed through "controllable" organization communication like advertising), Conceived Identity (The conceived identity refers to perceptual concepts - corporate image, corporate reputation,), Ideal Identity (The ideal identity is the optimum positioning of the organization in its market in a given time frame.) and Desired Identity (The desired identity lives in the hearts and minds of organization leaders.). In comparison these identities different forms of images are proposed by Gioia at al: Construed External Image (Organization members' perceptions of how outsiders perceive the organization), Projected Image (Image created by an organization to be communicated), Desired Future Image (Visionary perception the organization would like to have), Corporate Identity (strategically planned and operationally applied internal and external self - representation by logos and symbols), Transient Impression (Short-term impression constructed by a receiver) and Reputation (Relatively stable, long-term, collective judgments by outsiders). Different images are sign of exterior assessment of the organization while identity symbolizes perception of organization's insiders. One can characterizes identity - image relative analogous to internal - external style.
Identity development is not completed if it is not communicated among its stakeholders (consumers, shareholders, suppliers, patrons etc.) because communication is a most important building block in configuration of identity. Identity is established with times, when missions, goals values and actions are communicated to environment by different discourses and in that they make a distinction from one organization to other. The perceived organizational identity (i.e. insiders' insight of what organization stands for) and construed external image (insiders' perception what outsiders think the organization stands for) of an organization are very critical. If there exist divergence between both and outsider actual assessment of organization (reputation), then organization is facing severe instability. If inconsistency is distinct and far-reaching, it can recommend the need to re-evaluate and amend aspects of identity. This decision can be taken by CEO or manages only because they conscientious for edifice of identity and they are most visible members of the organization like Bill Gates.
In short, organizational identity is not exclusively an internally single-minded concept. Identity involves interactions and interrelationship between insiders and outsiders and perhaps particularly insider's perception of outsider' impression.
Try to analyze the definition of Albert and Whetten about the organizational identity and thinks when organization has more than one identities, as Balmer and other scholars has visualized, then organization has more than one center or cores and to keep all centers arrange in a line with the respective identities, is problematic and conflicting and in this way emergence of construed image as unified image of organization is not possible.
Take identity as soul of an organization, what it could be called if organization has multiple identities - different facet of a single soul/identity. How multiple identities can be justified if man has multiple personalities if we take organization as similar as an individual?
If organization has multiple identities then there it is very difficult to develop a consensus to answer the question "who are we"? According to Albert and Whetten, identity is continue and enduring and then the concept of change in organization is questionable and intriguing. The concept of identity in the context of organizational change makes it abstract in nature.
If all components of identity (central, enduring and distinctive) are unified and integrated in a strong single identity then all members will try to maintain it at any cost. Due to this attitude, the adaptability to organizational change among members will be minimum and they become resistive and there arise a passion for maintaining status quo and inertia.
To maintain the identity, the creativity, innovation gain low priority and member become intolerant for alternative views about organization.
When CED components of definition of identity are coherent, then organization thinks itself as distinguishing and privileged, the organization tries to maintain this status by deploying too many resources - financial, human, intellectual - which is not compatible with the existence theme of organization. Organization tries to align all components to distinguish rather for increase effectiveness.
Identity is also facing another problem, when an individual (CEO or manager) with strong self identity tries to interact with others, then he/she tries to dominate in the organization setting and promotes individual's identity. With this kind of situation, the distinguishably of individual's identity and organizational identity is very difficult.
The analysis specifies that the conceptualizations of the organizational identity shifts with time. These shifts are often a little at a time when considered from year to year. Due to ever elevating importance of organizational identity, it is decisive that organizations must comprehend the unconstructive, anti human consequences attached with identity.