Putting identification in motion: A dynamic view of organizational identification

Jeffrey S. Bednar, Benjamin M. Galvin, Blake E. Ashforth, Ella Hafermalz

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Building on work at the individual and organizational levels suggesting that an individual's self-concept and an organization's identity are dynamic, we relax the generally held assumption that perceptions of organizational identification are perceived as relatively stable over time and highlight the importance of understanding the perceived dynamism in members' relationships with their organizations over broader time horizons. We introduce various identification trajectories-a member's current perception of how his or her identification has evolved and will evolve over time-and investigate the sense of momentum that characterizes these trajectories. We also generate theory about the different action tendencies created by various types of trajectories and examine their influence on cognition, affect, and behavior in the present. Our theoretical model helps to explain why two members of the same organization with similar degrees of identification in the present might think, feel, and behave quite differently. In addition, our theoretical perspective enables us to understand why high (or low) identifiers might display cognition, affect, and behavior typically associated with low (or high) degrees of identification.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)200-222
Number of pages23
JournalOrganization Science
Issue number1
Early online date14 Nov 2019
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2020


  • Identification trajectory temporality
  • Identity
  • Organizational identification
  • Sensemaking


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