D.Litt. et Phil. / Recent studies have found that the life expectancy of organisations is rapidly declining (currently between 40 and 50 years) and that organisational decline and bankruptcy were increasing at disturbing rates. Equally recent contributions in the popular and business press have suggested that the expensive path to corporate failure could be linked to the "identity" or "corporate identity" of the organisation (more specifically the absence thereof). With the exception of the public relations and advertising perspectives, scant attention has been given to the notion of identity within an organisational context. Moreover, very little scholarly research has been conducted on the subject with much of the available literature written at a fairly superficial level by consultants or executives of advertising agencies. This is largely due to the abstract nature of the concept, the ambiguity surrounding its meaning, and the practice of using the organisation identity concept interchangeably with concepts such as corporate image and corporate identity. The current study set about to investigate and determine the theoretical and practical relevance of the organisation identity concept and argued that conceptual clarity was a prerequisite for exploring its relevance at an empirical level. The literature review commenced with clarification of the meaning and nature of organisation, acknowledging that organisational features (e.g. organisation identity) need to be understood from within the context of the organisation. Organisation theory, psychological perspectives (theory) on organisation, organisational change, organisational performance and new / emerging forms of organisation were subsequently reviewed and a fundamental perspective established as context for considering the concept of organisation identity. The empirical findings of the study were consistent with many of the theoretical assumptions regarding the nature of identity (essentially the organisation's distinctive character, as conveyed by its unique / distinctive, central or core and enduring features). Results furthermore suggest that processes of identity acquisition and the concept of identity crisis may be rewarding avenues for continued research. Conclusions, though constrained by the non-probability (convenience) nature of the research sample, nonetheless confirmed the linkage (and sensitivity) of organisation identity to the more generic life cycle of organisations and organisational change processes. The strong and pervasive relationship of organisation identity with organisational performance indexes has profound implications for the conceptualisation of organisations, their management and survival, and generally the role of leadership. It introduces a hitherto unknown concept into the performance management domain, which, on reflection, suggests that many established managerial routines, and practices may need to be reconsidered. For this research population, it is suggesting that management may comfortably redirect managerial focus, energy, and other resources towards identity establishment, maintenance and/or management with solid prospects for enhancing organisational performance. The latter is applicable regardless of whether performance in this context refers to short or medium term financial or other indicators. It was concluded that if the research findings could be extrapolated to a broader community of organisations, and were acted upon in a concerted manner by management, that the life expectancy of organisations could be significantly extended. This will ensure positive benefits not only to the workforce and those affected by organisations, but also society at large.
|16 August 2012
|Van Tonder, Christian Louis
|South African National ETD Portal
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