Sa-OR-S109-1 - Professional Identity Transformation And Strategic Industry Change: From Ambiguity To Reconstruction

Recovery and unwinding
Oral Presentation
Part of:
15 minutes
Icon Theatre
Organizational Change and Development
Organizational change processes
Professional identity transformation and strategic industry change: From ambiguity to reconstruction
C. Baert 1,*
1Vlerick Business School & Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium
Content: Purpose
In industries disrupted by technological innovation, industry change may affect employees’ professional identity. However, in contrast to the well-researched change processes of individual identity and organizational identity, the specific processes professionals engage in to transform and reconstruct a coherent professional identity in response to disruptive industry change remain understudied. We argue that these processes are reflected in professionals’ discursive practices and that studying such practices sheds light on the role of professional identity change in supporting industry change.
We employed an interpretative, grounded theory-based approach to study Belgian journalists’ discursive practices (editorials, interviews, speeches, trade journal articles, etc.) from 2000 to 2015 and to gain insights into professional identity change processes instigated by digitalization in the Belgian newspaper industry.
We identified two processes (conversion and expansion) by which professionals renegotiated core elements constituting their identity, allowing the reconstruction of a coherent professional identity congruent with the strategic industry change at hand.
Our findings need further validation in different industry contexts and with regards to different types of innovation.
Research/Practical Implications
Our study helps scholars explain how to navigate industry change driven by technological innovation. We highlight the recursive interrelationships between professional identity and strategic industry change: professional identity defines professionals’ understanding of industry change, while industry change shapes professionals’ understanding of their identity.
We underline the extensive potential of intertwining identity theory and strategic management research. Moreover, we underline the role of language as a strategic element in industry change processes.


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