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School of Business | Department of Communication | Finnish Business Communication | 2013
Thesis number: 13161
Identity work during strategic change: Coping strategies, dynamics and complexities. Case Aalto Univeristy School of Business
Author: Jakobsson, Eeva
Title: Identity work during strategic change: Coping strategies, dynamics and complexities. Case Aalto Univeristy School of Business
Year: 2013  Language: eng
Department: Department of Communication
Academic subject: Finnish Business Communication
Index terms: viestintä; communication; yritysviestintä; business communication; strategia; strategy; muutos; change; organisaatio; organization; identiteetti; identity; projektit; projects
Pages: 100
Full text:
» hse_ethesis_13161.pdf pdf  size:2 MB (1614160)
Key terms: organizational identity, sensemaking, strategy-as-practise, strategic change, identity work, identity projects


The purpose of the study was to contribute to a better understanding of the intra-organizational identity work during strategic change. Based on earlier research strategic change is known to cause disruption to the members ongoing identity work in an organization. The aim of this study was to find out how the new strategy and organizational identity were interpreted among the members of the organization, and what kind of disruptions did the new identity-challenging strategy and the new managerially imposed self-identities induce in the ongoing identity work of the members of the organization. Also the aim was to find out, in what kind of coping strategies and identity-work projects did the employees engaged themselves in order to make sense of the changes in identity of the organization, the new imposed self-identities and the new values of the organization presented to them through strategic communication and experienced in day-today practices and policies.

Data and Methods

The source of the data in the qualitative single case study carried out consisted of 7 semi-structured interviews conducted among Aalto University School of Business faculty. The theoretical framework of the study was combined from the theories of identity work, and by adopting a practitioner perspective on the strategy-as-practice and sensemaking theory. The method of the analysis was drawn from the theories of strategy-as-practice as a narrative process.

Findings and Conclusions

Intensified identity work was found in the Case organization enhanced by the strategic change. Based on the analysis, four different coping strategies or identity projects could be identified. The types were resistance, cynicism, sarcasm and positive coping strategy or the "strategy champion". Each type saw the new strategy of the University and the imposed self-identity in a unique way. Identity work and strategy work seemed to be closely intertwined. Identity work is not only caused by the official strategy texts, but more by the "real" day-to-day practices and policies that reveal the core values of the strategy that are being implemented.
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