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Conceptualization, Antecedents and Outcomes of Individual Work Identity: An Examination from the Social Identity Perspective Open Access


Other title
Social Exchange
Organizational Social Identity
Optimal Distinctness Theory
Relational Identity
Social Exchange Theory
Deep Structure Identity
Target Similarity Model
Identity Theory
Social Identity
Role Identity
Workgroup Social Identity
Situated Identity
High Performance Work Systems
Strategic Human Resource Management
Leader-Group Prototypicality
Perceived Organizational Support
Self-Determination Theory
Work Identity
Realistic Conflict Theory
Basic Psychological Needs
Individual Work Identity
Social Identification
Minimal Group Studies
Human Resource Management
Social Identity Theory
Multi-foci Social Identification
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Currie, Luanne G.
Supervisor and department
Luchak, Andrew (Strategic Management and Organization, Faculty of Business)
Examining committee member and department
van Dick, Rolf (Psychology, Goethe Universität Frankfurt)
Daniels, Lia (Educational Psychology, Faculty of Education)
Innes, Michelle (Strategic Management and Organization, Faculty of Business)
Deephouse, David (Strategic Management and Organization, Faculty of Business)
Faculty of Business
Strategic Management and Organization
Date accepted
Graduation date
Doctor of Philosophy
Degree level
Despite an expanding body of research aimed at understanding the role of work in self-definition, individual work identity research is fragmented due to inconsistent and incongruent application and interpretation of a range of identity theories as they apply to the study of organizations (Pratt et al., 2000). Chapter 1 introduces the concept of social identity and situates it within the organizational research agenda. Chapter 2 addresses concept clarification and theoretical integration. Through the process of concept clarification, concepts that have typically been analyzed “without a clear, shared, and conscious agreement on the properties or meanings attributed to them” (A. I. Meleis, 2011, p. 374) are refined. Second, a meta-theory of individual work identity (IWI) is developed; specifically connections and distinctions between various approaches are highlighted, a taxonomy of the theoretical dimensions of the concept of work identity is outlined, and a central theoretical approach is identified and positioned within the broader context of such established theories of motivation as social exchange theory (SET) and self-determination theory (SDT). In chapter 3, the target-similarity model from current social exchange research is applied. The proposition that social identification assumes distinct forms depending upon the target of identification (i.e., workgroup or organization) and the idea that target-specific forms of social identification have target-similar outcomes (i.e., workgroup turnover and organizational turnover) moderated by target-similar variables (leader-group prototypicality and perceived organizational support) are tested. For the most part, results supported proposed hypotheses. Chapter 4 examines the relationship between dimensions of high performance work systems (HPWSs), satisfaction of basic psychological needs, and target-specific social identification in organizational settings. The main hypothesis tested is that target-specific forms of social identification have specific antecedents (i.e., dimensions of HPWSs) that influence identification processes in unique ways, depending upon the target of identification. The influence of HPWS dimensions on target-specific social identification, mediated by satisfaction of basic human needs as outlined in self-determination theory, is also tested. Support for mediation hypotheses and partial support for main effects hypotheses was found. Chapter 5 summarizes the main ideas, provides recommendations for future research and discusses the practical implications of central findings for organizations.
Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. Where the thesis is converted to, or otherwise made available in digital form, the University of Alberta will advise potential users of the thesis of these terms. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis and, except as herein before provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.
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