Throughoutthis essay I will aim to form an understanding of how identity can be both positivelyand negatively utilised as a form of Organisational Control through criticaldiscussion. I will draw upon the appropriate case studies and theories whichwill be used to form an argument as to the impact and extent to which identitycan truly be used as a form of Organisational Control, as well as critically evaluatedand commented upon. I will conclude having taken all the applicable andappropriate information into consideration as to the extent to which OrganisationalControl can be shaped and influenced by identity.As tohave a full and comprehensive understanding of Identity as a form ofOrganisation Control it is imperative to make distinctions between certainterms, in this case between “identity” and “personality.” Personality accordingto Kenny et al. (2011) is defined as the integration of characteristicspatterns of thoughts, emotions and behaviours, which in most cases are constantthroughout a majority of adult life, that form the unique character of an individual.It is the constant nature of personality which separates it from identity, whichKitay and Wright, (2007) believe can change throughout an individual’s lifespaninfluenced by social and cultural external factors.
In many cases there can beseen an aspiration to possess and associate with numerous identities, it isthis belief in holding many identities at once which allows people to associatethemselves with their occupation even if it contradicts their identity outsideof work, (Kitay and Wright, 2007). Kenny (2011) takes this a step further intocollective culture which can be seen to be in play within many organisations,with the emergence of a consistent narrative of homogenous corporate culture.Identityis often defined in unique manner within theoretical perspectives dependant onthe research being conducted, and in many cases within organisations is evenused as a label. Social Identity Theory as proposed by Henri Tajfel and JohnTurner (Year) put forward the idea that individuals as a rule of thumb usetheir own experiences to self-identify themselves within certain social circlesand to dissociate themselves from other groups which they deem less desirable(Mattewman, 2009).
Put simply they over-stress diversities with an undesired out-groupand underrate diversities within a desirable in-group (O’Conner and Annison,2002). An individual is most likely to want to interact and socialise withsomeone which they perceive themselves to share many similar characteristicswith such as age, social class, and religion, Kenny (2011) calls this ideahomo-sociability. Brewis (2004) and Zuboff (1988) brought to light Foucauldianperspective which states that individuals generally prefer to identify with thesounds of thought or dominant discourses. It is when viewed through the lenseof this perspective that “subjectivity” assumes a powerful role in moulding individualidentities within society. In many ways stereotypes can be seen as an illustrativeexample of Foucauldian perspective, when we look at the world of management,especially high level management there appears to be a homogeny of individuals sharingsimilar characteristic, generally white men, this happens due to cognitive dissonanceand cultural norms (Kanter, 1977). Main theorists within this symbolic interactionismperspective are Goffman (1969) and Mead (1934).
Goffman (1969) sees identity asa ‘continuing process of managing how we present ourselves to others,’ whileMead (1934) comments on sees that people constitute a distinction between “I”and “Me,” with “I” representing the behaviours and attitudes we use wheninteracting with others, and “Me” relating to how we believe we are perceived byothers. Gardner and Avolio, (1998) observe the similarities between the twotheories in that they both highlight that we build our own self-awarenessaround our social interactions with other people. The theories which I havementioned up to this point approach surrounding identity lay the framework formore in-depth research to be conducted into both “control” and “identity.” Itis evident that management theorists and researchers need to view identity frommany different perspectives within our society so that best guarantee that theprinciples of equality and diversity are upheld within the field oforganisational management.Puusa etal (2006) believes that identity is a multidimensional concept that can bedeveloped at individual, group and organizational level.
There has in recentyears been growing curiosity with regardto understanding organisational control through the lense of identity. Kenny(2011) writes , ‘the significance of identity was not simply recognized bymanagement, it was identified as something that could be shaped and controlledby management.’ As far back as Taylor in 1911 identity can be seen to be beingviewed from an organisational and management perspective. Rose (1988) notesthat Taylor saw an individual’s identity as an obstacle which stands in the wayof scientific management. This is due to the fact that Taylor believed that theone and only way to effectively motivate individuals to do work was through amonetary means. Taylor believed that an individual should sacrifice their notionof self-identity as to best fit into the different management models which maybe required of them. (Kenny, 2011). In the context of the time and at the lowerlevel of the workforce hierarchy this idea seems to stand with relative merit.
The reason that workers were seen to battle and not conform to this model of “scientificmanagement” was to the fact that they held the idea of being part of a group inhigher regard then the monetary reward which Taylor deemed to be the only truedrive to work. (Kenny, 2011). From this it can be taken that meaningful workcan be deemed as a main driver of performance and motivation and that the ideaof belonging to a group collective within a work environment is a key motivatorin the factors which encourage people to work. This conclusion coincides withthe beliefs of many theorists within the “human relation movement” such as Alderfer’sRelatedness Existence theories and Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, in thatidentity cannot be separated or viewed as irrelevant by organisational managementstudies. It is agreed by the theoristsmentioned above that workers are not just motivated by monetary gain but also by social and emotional factors whichcome from belonging to a group (Ross, 1988; Buchanan and Huczynski, 2004). Itis through this extended look at workers as humans with human motivations that stimulates employees to work with both enthusiasmand passion and that results inemployees “going the extra mile” within an organization (Alvesson and Willmott,2002).
It is because of this that it can be said that identity is the key tothe engine that drives employees’ motivation within a firm. This can be seen tobe backed up by Alvesson and Willmott (2002, p. 621) who state that identity is definitely ‘a significant,neglected and increasingly important modality of organizational control’.