Chapter 20: Reflections on the identity journey of a budding organizational change scholar or insights on constructing a meaningful research path and life
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This chapter explores the identity journey of a budding organizational change scholar to uncover insights as to how our individual, relational and collective identities impact our research and vice versa, and how conducting research on organizational change is not only a quest for understanding the nature of organizations but also a quest for self-discovery. Organizational change research is about observing organizations and about the impact of internal and external factors on such organizations over time. Likewise, professional (research) identity is also constructed over time in a dynamic and reciprocal process between “external systems and internal selves” (Szabla et al., 2020). This chapter is based on my experience as an ex-manager becoming a student again and taking a PhD journey to embark on a study about the acquisition of Ben & Jerry’s by Unilever and how this acquisition impacted the organizational identity of the social icon. This research quest was part of my own identity journey to construct a meaningful life. Most of this process was unconscious and it is only upon reflection today that I make sense of my research choices and how they were (and continue to be) intertwined with my plural identities. The chapter delves into my experience as a young PhD student seeking to find a research question that was meaningful from an academic perspective but also for my own personal sense of what is meaningful. As the reflection unfolds, I explore the interplay between my plural identities and how this contributes to the construction of a meaningful research path and life. Based on my own experience and journey, insights reveal the importance of honoring the dynamic construction of our multiple identities and how these may shape our professional identity. It is time to acknowledge and celebrate how identities may be a source of energy and motivation, and make for a more meaningful research path and life.

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