We offer as our main theoretical contribution a conceptual framework for how the past is evoked in present identity reconstruction and the ways in which the past influences the articulation of claims for future identity. We introduce the notion of textual, material, and oral memory forms as the means by which organizational actors evoke the past. The conceptual framework is applied in a study of two occasions of identity reconstruction in the LEGO Group, which revealed differences in ways that the past was evoked and influenced claims for future identity. Our study suggests that (1) a longer time perspective in the use of memory enabled a longer time perspective in formulating claims for future identity, (2) a broader scope of articulated identity claims for the future was related to the combination of a broader range of memory forms, and (3) the depth of claims for future identity was related to the way in which memory forms were combined. At a more general level, our paper illustrates how viewing identity construction from the perspective of an ongoing present adds a new dimension to understanding the temporal dynamics of organizational identity.
Published online: 23. May 2012