Management Challenges and Symptoms
New Horizons in Management series
Edited by Janice Langan-Fox, Cary L. Cooper and Richard J. Klimoski
Chapter 5: The Struggle of the Self: Identity Dysfunctions in the Contemporary Workplace
Glen E. Kreiner Introduction Employment relationships are changing dramatically in the contemporary workplace. The new employment contract has redeﬁned work arrangements of the past and ushered in a new era of organizational complexity (Rousseau, 1997). These changes bring about new challenges and tensions in the worker–workplace interface. As societies, organizations, families and individuals each become more complex, the interactions among them magnify in complexity as well. This new complexity calls for a richer understanding of existing constructs in the organizational literature – research that mirrors the intricacy and nuance experienced by the modern worker. In this chapter, I provide one such approach by examining several of the identity and identiﬁcation dysfunctions in the modern workplace. Speciﬁcally, I examine how the ‘struggle for self’ (Baumeister, 1986) manifests itself in often dysfunctional ways in the workplace. I do so by examining eight speciﬁc dysfunctions, four of which derive from imbalanced identity boundaries, and four of which are suboptimal identiﬁcation states. I then end the chapter by suggesting ways that individuals and organizations might work toward reducing identity dysfunctions in the workplace. I have two goals with this chapter. First, for those readers not intimately familiar with the identity and identiﬁcation literatures, I hope to orient you toward how these areas of research can be linked with yours to better understand the common identity-based dysfunctions in the modern workplace. Second, for those who do toil in the identity and identiﬁcation areas of research, I hope to...
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