Identity Regulation, Identity Work and Phronesis

Thibaut Bardon, Andrew D. Brown, Stephan Peze

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Citations (SciVal)
440 Downloads (Pure)


How do corporations attempt to regulate the ways middle managers draw on discourses centred on 'effectiveness' and 'ethics' in their identity work, and how do these individuals respond? We analyse the discursive struggle over what it meant to be a competent manager at Disneyland where middle managers were encouraged to construe their selves in ways which emphasized ‘being effective’ over ‘being ethical’, and managers responded with identity work which positioned them as searching for the practical wisdom (phronesis) to make decisions that were both effective and moral. The theoretical contribution we make is twofold. First, we analyse processes of identity regulation and identity work at Disneyland, highlighting divergences between corporate injunctions and middle managers appropriations of them, regarding what it meant to be a practically wise manager. Second, we discuss a phronetic identity narrative template, contestable both by organizations and managers, in which people are positioned as questing for the practical wisdom to make decisions that are both moral and effective, and phronesis as an image by which scholars may analyse identities and identity work. This leads us to a more nuanced understanding of middle manager identities and the scope they have to constitute their selves as moral agents.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)940-965
Number of pages26
JournalHuman Relations
Issue number8
Early online date6 Jan 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2017


  • Sustainability
  • Identity
  • identity work
  • identity regulation
  • phronesis
  • ethics
  • effectiveness
  • middle managers
  • Disneyland


Dive into the research topics of 'Identity Regulation, Identity Work and Phronesis'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this