Personae of interest - managers' identities and the online mirror

G Ranzini, C. Fieseler

Research output: Chapter in Book / Report / Conference proceedingChapterAcademicpeer-review


Purpose - In this chapter we discuss the implications social media have for the selfrepresentation and identity formulation of professionals within organizations. Under the assumption that new, technology-mediated networking possibilities call for a reformulation of the boundaries between the professional and the private, we propose several avenues of investigation. The concept of "online personae" is also introduced in order to describe how managers may strive for equilibrium while balancing on and offline identities with impression management efforts. Approach-Proceeding conceptually, we review the existing literature and practice of managerial social media use and delineate the challenges, or "tensions" professionals have to mitigate while expressing themselves online. This allows for a full exploration of digital interaction as a quest for equilibrium, between one's professional and personal self-expression, but also between the management of one's impression, and the emotional attachment to a social media profile. Findings - We argue that social media may challenge current conceptions of managerial identity and work practices to a degree. Social media may demand different forms of representation both to inside and outside audiences, which can lead to the mediatization of both the professional and the organization, and call for a more conscious formulation of identity and management of impressions. We argue in particular that, within this context, online personae may serve as entities (through single or multiple accounts) delineating boundaries between the various roles managers are asked to perform within their professional and personal lives. Implications - Managerial awareness toward a tool such as online personae may help in critically reflecting the embeddedness of managerial practice within social networks. A critical management of personae can also help in formulating identity-based strategies for gaining access and improving the quality of connections and interactions. Ultimately, as social media become a tool for workplace collaboration, the strategic thinking behind online personae might take a progressively larger importance for the success of individuals, and for organizations at large. Originality/value - The chapter introduces a managerial point-of-view to the field of digital identities, widely analyzed on samples of adolescents and young adults. This allows to investigate matters proper of a professional life, such as the management of work/life boundaries, which become increasingly blurry in the online world. The chapter also introduces the concept of "online personae," which aims at describing with more specificities the message and audience consequences behind the choice of one single social media profile, or several coexisting ones. © 2013 by Emerald Group Publishing Limited.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAdvanced Series in Management
Place of PublicationInstitute for Media and Communications Management, University of St. Gallen, St Gallen, Switzerland
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - 2013

Publication series

NameAdvanced Series in Management


  • Identity theory
  • Impression management
  • Privacy management
  • Selfconceptualization


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