Elite identity and status anxiety: An interpretative phenomenological analysis of management consultants

TitleElite identity and status anxiety: An interpretative phenomenological analysis of management consultants
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2015
AuthorsGill MJ
JournalOrganization
Volume22
Issue3
Pagination306-325
Date PublishedMay
ISBN Number1350-5084
Accession NumberWOS:000353585100002
Abstract

Critical management scholars have emphasized that organizations' attempts to regulate employees' identities can prompt the reproduction or transformation of self-identity. The emotional consequences of identity regulation, however, remain largely unexamined. This article explores the experiences of eight management consultants in the British office of a global consulting firm over several months. Interviews and observations were analysed according to the principles of interpretative phenomenological analysis. The results of the study highlight consultants' identification with an organizationally inspired elite discourse alongside high levels of commitment and the presence of a counter-intuitive yet significant status anxiety. Drawing on psychological and sociological theories that connect identity and anxiety, this article suggests that the continual promotion of an elite identity within the consulting firm leaves many of the consultants feeling acutely anxious about their status.

DOI10.1177/1350508413514287