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Change, meaning and identity at the workplace

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Stefanie ReissnerORCiD



Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to investigate how organisational change can affect the development of personal identities using a narrative approach.Design/methodology/approach – This paper derives from qualitative and inductive cross-national research into organisational change and learning. Three manufacturing firms, one each from the UK, South Africa and Russia, were studied to investigate sensemaking under conditionsof change. Data were collected through narrative interviews and interpreted using an inductive approach borrowing elements from grounded theory and analytic induction.Findings – The data suggest that organisational change affects the personal identities of those involved through the way in which organisational actors’ expectations are being met, exceeded or disappointed. The conclusion is that changes in the work environment can result in major revisions to organisational actors’ biographical selves and accompanying stories that give meaning to past experiences and future expectations.Research limitations/implications – Further qualitative and inductive research is required to further investigate the dynamics of identity construction under conditions of organisational change.Originality/value – Five short biographical stories by selected research participants provide rich insights into the dynamics of identity development under conditions of organisational change.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Reissner SC

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Journal of Organizational Change Management

Year: 2010

Volume: 23

Issue: 3

Pages: 287-299

Date deposited: 04/10/2010

ISSN (print): 0953-4814

ISSN (electronic): 1758-7816

Publisher: Emerald Group Publishing Limited


DOI: 10.1108/09534811011049617


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