The Dynamics of Employees' Identities in the Organization: Evidence from a Korean Company by Eun-Suk Lee.
Sloan School of Management.
Thomas A. Kochan and Lotte Bailyn.
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This dissertation is about identity and identification in organizations. I analyze the dynamic processes by which individual employees' identities are constructed in a large global Korean company (K-Co) that actively pursues a strong organizational culture and an espoused employee identity called "K-C man." First, I examine selection as the first stage of employees' identity dynamics-how the organization embodies the K-Co man identity through selection process. Data analysis showed that K-Co's selection process is organized to seek a good identity fit between an applicant and the organizationally espoused prototypical K-Co man. I compared the K-Co man identity that the organization pursues at selection with the attributes of the K-Co man identity perceived by the current individual K-Co employees. I found substantial consistency between them, which reveals the significance of selection as an initial reification of the organizationally espoused employee identity. Second, I unpack K-Co's 4-week newcomer training program as the second stage of employees' identity dynamics-how organizational identification is ignited through this early socialization process. Interviews with trainers showed that the organization uses institutionalized socialization tactics intending to impose the K-Co man identity on newcomers, thereby imbuing trainees' organizational identification, and mentor and team are two important socialization agents in this process. However, empirical evidence also revealed that individual trainees do not always react to socialization agents as the organization expected: trainees' organizational identification is achieved mainly through mentor identification, but, contrary to the organization's intention, team identification does not converge into organizational identification. Third, I analyze the employees' identity dynamics at the workplace as the third stage-how organizational identification varies among three occupational groups within K-Co (HR, Engineering, and Marketing). Even within the strong cultural context of K-Co, where the organization intends to control employees' identity work, I found the occupation each individual employee holds induces a significant variation in employees' organizational identification. Data analysis showed that how transparently K-Co's organizational identity is projected on the identities of three different occupations significantly affects each occupation incumbents' organizational identification. I also discuss how organizational tenure blurs this occupational variation in organizational identification, making all employees' identity work organization-focused.
Thesis (Ph. D.)--Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Sloan School of Management, 2011.Cataloged from PDF version of thesis.Includes bibliographical references (p. 184-200).
DepartmentSloan School of Management.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Sloan School of Management.