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Shared Identity, Intentionality and Agency in Organizations

Thinking about Cognition

ISBN: 978-1-80117-825-9, eISBN: 978-1-80117-824-2

Publication date: 22 November 2021


We argue for a new microfoundational approach to organizational identity to replace common vertical theory-borrowing from individual identity theory. Organizational identity becomes either an individualistic account of member representations of the group identity held together by other-regarding cognitive structures or a group-level account where jointly understood identity is tied to joint goals and agency as we-intentionality. Organizational identity is linked to collective action through intentionality. For large organizations, jointly held identity is crucial to guide individual action on behalf of the collective. This approach also internalizes shared identity within the organization as a collectively constructed cognitive representation rather than just an externally oriented social evaluation of membership in a category. In support of this approach, the authors examine a case study of individual wineries’ expectations and perceptions of the collective identity of their jointly constructed wine trail and how these evaluations affect commitment to membership and collective action.



Westgren, R. and Foreman, P. (2021), "Shared Identity, Intentionality and Agency in Organizations", Galavan, R.J. and Sund, K.J. (Ed.) Thinking about Cognition (New Horizons in Managerial and Organizational Cognition, Vol. 5), Emerald Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 57-72.



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