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Change, meaning and identity at the workplace

Stefanie C. Reissner (Faculty of Business and Law, The Reg Vardy Centre, University of Sunderland, Sunderland, UK)

Journal of Organizational Change Management

ISSN: 0953-4814

Article publication date: 25 May 2010



The purpose of this paper is to investigate how organisational change can affect the development of personal identities using a narrative 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 conditions of change. Data were collected through narrative interviews and interpreted using an inductive approach borrowing elements from grounded theory and analytic induction.


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.


Five short biographical stories by selected research participants provide rich insights into the dynamics of identity development under conditions of organisational change.



Reissner, S.C. (2010), "Change, meaning and identity at the workplace", Journal of Organizational Change Management, Vol. 23 No. 3, pp. 287-299.



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