Organizational Saint Image: Too Good to Be True? Conceptualizing Dysfunctional Tensions of Positive Deviance for Organizational Members

Sanne Frandsen, Mette Morsing

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperResearchpeer-review


Paper accepted for presentation by Critical Management Studies (CMS).
The paper offers a novel conceptualization and heuristic framework to highlight how organizational saint images attributed by public perceptions of morally positive organizational deviance create identity tensions propelled by members’ addiction to the organizational saint image. We bring together research on organizational deviance, celebrity organizations, and organizational identification, as well as studies on micro-level corporate social responsibility (CSR) and moral engagement, developing a coherent synthesis that explores the counterproductive effects of identification processes in response to public organizational saint images. Whereas prior research suggests that a positive organizational image creates strong positive organizational identification among organizational members, we offer an alternative conceptualization that highlights members’ addiction to the saint image and pressures to live up to the saint image in ways that create two sets of identity tensions: sense of fakeness and sense of superiority. We suggest an elaborate research agenda to fully explore both theoretically and empirically the link between the organizational saint image and positive organizational deviance and its counterproductive implications for individual-level identity tensions, as well as for organizational-level misconduct.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date2018
Number of pages34
Publication statusPublished - 2018
EventThe Academy of Management Annual Meeting 2018: Improving Lives - Chicago, United States
Duration: 10 Aug 201814 Aug 2018
Conference number: 78


ConferenceThe Academy of Management Annual Meeting 2018
Country/TerritoryUnited States
Internet address


  • Deviance
  • Saint image
  • Addiction
  • Celebrity
  • Identification
  • Identity

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