Roles as Mediators in Identity Work

TitleRoles as Mediators in Identity Work
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2016
AuthorsJarventie-Thesleff R., Tienari J.
JournalOrganization Studies
Date PublishedFeb
ISBN Number0170-8406
Accession NumberWOS:000368822100005

In this article, we aim to revitalize the concept of role for advancing theory on identity work in organizations. Our article makes three contributions. First, we offer a critical review of how roles have been conceptualized in studies on identities, and develop a theoretical frame for understanding how people in organizations engage in transitions within and between roles that emerge and evolve in relational interaction and mediate their identity work. Second, we operationalize this frame in a longitudinal study of an organizational change initiative focusing on strategic rebranding in an industrial firm. We elucidate how roles and identities co-evolve over time and how roles and role transitions figure in the organization-based identity work of individuals. Third, we consider the implications of viewing roles as mediators in identity work. We highlight identity-related trade-offs made by individuals when they become associated with particular roles and show how they become disillusioned as organizational change agents.