Narratives of Organizational Identity and Change

Laura Mathilde Gottinger & Signe Thorndal

Student thesis: Master thesis

Abstract

Organizational change is a widespread field, particularly in management practice. The need for and focus on change has become a condition in organizations where the ever-changing and dynamic world has entailed new demands for adaptability. In the light of COVID-19, many organizations are facing change toward a hybrid workplace, referred to as the future of work and the ‘new normal'. This thesis aims to examine organizational change towards a more hybrid work practice in the Danish utility company, Provas. We explore the top management’s change initiatives: free seating and redesign of physical spaces. These changes are intended to create more effectiveness and transversal cooperation. Through a narrative perspective, we investigate the implementation of a planned change and its contribution to tensions in the organizational practice. This change involves the construction of a new organizational identity narrative. We study the change through different narratives and counternarratives of a selected group of organizational members and how these impact the organizational identity. Our thesis is based on empirical data consisting of fieldwork, eight qualitative interviews, and one focus group interview. The first part of our analysis examines how change is constructed by the management in Provas and how managers and employees identify with a new organizational identity narrative. Subsequently, we analyze the different ways employees relate to change and its impact on the organizational identity. Further, the analysis presents the management’s efforts to establish the identity narrative as hegemonic. Finally, our thesis presents a discussion of our empirical findings and the possibilities of achieving hegemony on the basis of the new identity narrative in Provas. Our findings show that the planned change has not been implemented as intended and the organizational identity narrative has not retrieved its status as hegemonic yet. Employees identify differently with the organizational identity, resulting in narratives in Provas becoming fragmented and polyphonic. ‘Old’ employees construct counter-narratives and resist the change, whereas ‘new’ employees contradictorily legitimize the change and the new narrative. Additionally, this thesis finds that the management in Provas recruits new employees with the intention of achieving their goal of the planned change and establishing hegemony with their new organizational identity narrative.

EducationsMSc in Psychology, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
LanguageDanish
Publication date2022
Number of pages115
SupervisorsTobias Berggren Jensen