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Title: Power and the construction of organisational identity : creating the United Kingdom's first Academic Health Sciences Centre
Author: Lennox-Chhugani, Niamh
ISNI:       0000 0004 2705 0825
Awarding Body: Imperial College London
Current Institution: Imperial College London
Date of Award: 2011
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This study contributes to our understanding of the reproduction and transformation of organisational identity as it takes place in the context of individual and collective agency and relations of power within the organisation. Organisational identity is socially constructed and continuously reproduced and transformed discursively and non-discursively (Sveningsson and Alvesson, 2003; Czarniawska-Joerges, 2004; Corley et al, 2006) and is rarely as unitary as it appears (Humphreys and Brown, 2002; Foreman and Whetten, 2002). This study asks how power relations influence the construction of organisational identity in the context of multiple identity discourses and how this construction in turn reproduces and transforms power relations in an organisation. I use a reflexive methodology to analyse the empirical data collected during a longitudinal study in which 87 organisational members from all levels of the organisation were interviewed, organisational practices were observed and 83 organisational documents were analysed. This reflexive methodology employs qualitative and inductive methods to obtain and analyse rich situated empirical material. The longitudinal design of the study enables detailed examination of the dynamic processes underlying organisational identity construction over time. The study contributes to our understanding of the construction of organisational identity as an effect of power relations and a medium through which power relations are themselves transformed and reproduced. Firstly, the study contributes to our understanding how multiple organisational identities emerge as a single dominant identity discourse. It identifies processes of strategic ambiguity and inter-discursive recontextualisation strategies such as colonisation and translation which provide the creative space for constructing organisational identity. Secondly, it adds to current theorisation of multiple organisational identity dynamics by analysing these in the context of power relations. Using this analytical lens, organisational identity is seen as the medium through which power relations are reproduced and transformed as well as an outcome of the exercise of power. “Who we are” as an organisation determines which professional and other social groups are considered to be enunciate the identity discourses which 'fit' best and these groups in turn exercise power episodically to reproduce this dominant identity discourse. The final contribution adds to our understanding of how other social identities such as professional identities interact with each other in a healthcare context and with a desired future identity to transform and reproduce power relations between different groups within a complex professionally dominated organisation.
Supervisor: Atun, Rifat ; Chapman, Christopher Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral