Organizational identity and place: a discursive exploration of hegemony and resistance

Andrew D. Brown, Michael Humphreys

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This paper analyses how three distinct cohorts of workers in a recently merged UK-based college of Further Education understood their group and their organization’s identities. We focus in particular, but not exclusively on how the groups’ shared understandings of ‘place’ informed their identity accounts. Identities are theorised as being constituted within discursive regimes, and place treated as a discursive resource on which individuals and groups may draw in their attempts to author versions of their selves. In our case, understandings of place were also a resource on which some people drew in nostalgic reminiscence, and others used to fantasise about their preferred futures for the college. Framed by our intention to identify plurivocal native interpretations of place and identity in ways that promote the reading of polysemy back into case research, the contribution this paper makes is threefold. First, it adds to efforts to theorize organizations and identities as unstable social constructions constituted through acts of languaging. Second, it illustrates how different groups of local actors with distinct histories and value preferences may draw on their place of work in order to author contrasting versions of their organization’s identity. Finally, our paper analyses the attempts made by senior managers and groups of other staff to define their organization in particular ways, as hegemonic ‘moves’ in an ongoing struggle for control over the organization as a discursive space.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)231-257
Number of pages27
JournalJournal of management studies
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2006


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