Processes of Negotiating Identity in a Cross Sector Partnership

Sarah Easter, Majken Schultz

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In spite of the growing importance of cross sector partnerships to address societal challenges, the extant organizational studies literature has tended to hone in on identity in organizational fields, single organizations and teams. Recognizing this significant lacuna, we present an ethnographic, grounded theory study of the processes by which organizations involved in a cross sector partnership continuously negotiate the partnership’s identity in attempts to tackle the issue of homelessness. Our findings highlight how the identity of a partnership involving actors from public, private and non-profit sectors is negotiated and re- negotiated and, in turn, the strategies that actors enact in order to influence what the partnership is in the process of becoming. Specifically, we capture how actors, who are representative of both the partnership and their own organizations and thus insider- outsiders, enact four core influencing resources – finances, research, on the ground experiences and communications – in their everyday interactions to continuously maintain, shape and alter the partnership’s identity; we refer to these processes as “partnership identity-as-negotiation”. We contribute to the emerging stream of literature on identity involving multiple organizations by explicating identity-work processes in cross sector partnerships characterized by the presence of multiple understandings of identity and ongoing interfaces with permeable boundaries.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the Seventy-seven Annual Meeting of the Academy of Management
EditorsGuclu Atinc
Number of pages6
Place of PublicationBriar Cliff Manor, NY
PublisherAcademy of Management
Publication date2017
Article number12572
Publication statusPublished - 2017
Event77th Annual meeting of the Academy of Management: At the Interface - Georgia, Atlanta, United States
Duration: 4 Aug 20178 Aug 2017
Conference number: 77


Conference77th Annual meeting of the Academy of Management
Country/TerritoryUnited States
Internet address
SeriesAcademy of Management Proceedings


  • Cross sector partnership
  • Identity work
  • Negotiation

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