Long-term Dynamics of Employee Identification with an Organizational Unit

  •  Kenji Matsuo    


This study presents the first framework for understanding the long-term dynamics of employee identification with an organizational unit. Similar research generally adopts cross-sectional quantitative methods that insufficiently explain the long-term dynamics of identification. Following studies that find stronger identification with lower-level groups than with an entire organization, we examine the case of a marine hull unit of a Japanese property-casualty insurer. We suggest that employees initially identify with the unit because of “occupational ability recognition” and “affective recognition”. We identify that these factors are necessary and sufficient conditions for identification with the unit. When they are absent, dis-identification occurs. If identification based on these factors is maintained, “value preferences” become dimensions of identification. Members prefer the unit values of interesting work, professional utility, and career attainment. When employees are dissatisfied with the unit’s values, ambivalent identification occurs. Ultimately, mature employees may express a “value proposition orientation”. They identify with the unit by consciously relating their value proposition and the unit.

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