The Production and Consumption of Meaning at Work
Edited by Matthew J. Brannan, Elizabeth Parsons and Vincenza Priola
Chapter 4: The Branded Self as Paradox: Polysemic Readings of Employee–Brand Identification
4. The branded self as paradox: polysemic readings of employee– brand identification Introduction Sandra Smith and Margo Buchanan-Oliver In this chapter1 we unpack the brand experience by investigating employee representations of the self, organization and brand, from a social narrative perspective. Using a range of techniques, such as group and individual interviews, participant-generated visual texts and narrative analysis, we frame employee portraits of the brand as reflections or mirrors of the branded self. We assert that how the employee represents the brand is central to not only the branded identity of the employee but also, collectively, to that of the organization. This chapter outlines how employees may either accommodate or resist, to varying degrees, identification with the organizational brand. However, we add to this view by also exploring instances where the brand constitutes the self beyond the professional realm. We also uncover post-structuralist complexity which confounds notions of the branded self as unitary, predictable or complete. Our findings mirror the post-structuralist perspective of organizational identity expressed by Alvesson and Willmot (2002). Consequently, we represent and hold in tension competing portrayals of the self–brand– organization, thereby confirming the branded self as contingent, frequently paradoxical and ‘the nodal point of intersecting subject positions’ (Harding, 2008: 45). Organizational context Using a single case approach allows us to provide a rich, narrative portrayal of one organizational context. One key rationale for using a case study approach is that it is an effective way of linking theory and real-life experiences (Gummesson, 2007). Also, using...
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