In this chapter, the author first briefly describes the social identity approach comprising social identity and self-categorization theory which is the backbone of the concept of organizational identification as introduced to the mainstream management and industrial/organizational (I/O) literature by Ashforth and Mael in their seminal 1989 Academy of Management Journal paper. Next, the most commonly used scales for measuring identification in organizational contexts are presented and empirical relations to antecedents, correlates, and outcomes summarized. In particular, the close relation to commitment and additional empirical evidence for both the overlap and the distinctiveness of the two constructs are discussed and a theoretical attempt to integrate identification and commitment is presented. The chapter presents and discusses more recent developments in organizational identification with respect to foci of identification – team and organization in particular _ and their relative strengths and predictive value and their interaction; new forms of identification such as negative identification, disidentification, or ambivalent identification; and the relation between identification and stress as an example for identification as a double-edged sword with identification potentially serving as both a resource for buffering strain at work but also for overidentification as a source for additional stress. Finally, the conclusion highlights the issue of within-person variability of identification and also discusses some directions for future research and implications for practice.
Rolf van Dick
One of the main fields of social psychology is the study of stereotypes and prejudice. Prejudice is the unfounded generalization of (mostly negative) characteristics to every member of a certain group and, as a result, unjust discrimination against the individual as a member of that group. I was trained as a social psychologist in my postgraduate education, I completed my PhD at Philipps-University’s social psychology department where I taught social psychology courses in the undergraduate psychology program. After a spell in a UK Business School at Aston University I returned to Germany and for almost ten years I have been a chair of social psychology. Therefore, I think I know what I am talking about when (self-)stereotyping social psychologists as a bunch of 2x2 researchers. I am, of course, exaggerating greatly and there are certainly as many social psychologists who have never conducted a laboratory experiment as there are management scholars with backgrounds in economics, marketing or sociology who run experiments within and outside the laboratory. However, I think the following example is a good way to illustrate the challenges a social psychologist may face when trying to publish in management journals.
Nikolai Egold and Rolf Van Dick
Research suggests that identification, that is, the feeling of oneness, with an organization is an important but not the only way an employee can feel about his or her membership in an organization. Employees are also part of their professional network and/or occupational groupings and can identify more or less strongly with this aspect of their career. Furthermore, Kreiner and Ashforth (2004) proposed an expanded model with three additional forms of identification: disidentification, ambivalent identification and neutral identification with an organization. In this chapter, we present an empirical study demonstrating the usefulness of looking at both career and organizational identification and of considering all four forms of identification within each of these two foci of identification. To test this expanded model, we conducted a survey among 246 employees who answered the items by Kreiner and Ashforth with respect to both their career and their organization. We also measured potential antecedents of identification, that is, need for identification, positive and negative affectivity, tenure, intra-role conflict, role ambiguity and individualism, and its consequences, that is, job satisfaction, well-being and work engagement. Our data show a differential pattern of relations across the constructs. For instance, career identification did not correlate with the positive consequences, but disidentification and ambivalent career identification did explain variation in these concepts. Implications for research and practice are discussed.