Faculty Member Responses to Multiple Organizational Identities: Jesuit, Catholic, and University

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Deshotels, Judy Marie
Kezar, Adrianna
Many organizations, including Catholic universities, make concerted efforts to foster their organizational identities, yet little research has been conducted to explore the issues pertinent to doing so and there is little research published on the concepts of organizational identity and organizational identification. Using grounded theory methodology, this study explored why and how faculty members respond to multiple organizational identities and the conditions, actions, and consequences that are part of that process. This study sought to understand what responses faculty members make to the Jesuit, Catholic, and university identities and what factors influence their responses. Results are based on a grounded theory analysis of thirty faculty member interviews at one Jesuit university. In general, the organizational identities made a difference to how faculty members enacted their roles depending on the degree to which faculty members had a sense of connection with the organizational identities. A sense of connection was made by the degree to which a faculty member shared the values and/or beliefs that were embodied in the organizational identities and whether or not faculty members perceived the organizational identities as being relevant to their jobs, i.e. to their roles or subject matter. The stronger the sense of connection, the more likely the faculty member would implement the organizational identities into their roles, unless other conditions/factors intervened, e.g. perceived conflict between identities, perceived importance of identities, attitude towards identities and broader organizational forms. In response to the level of connection, faculty members took a variety of actions or inaction: implemented the identities into all roles (full implementation), some roles (fragmented implementation), not at all (no implementation), or simply had actions that were coincidentally consistent with the organizational identities but were not the result of the identities (coincidental actions). Consequences of a personal nature arose based upon the level of faculty members' connections and resulting actions/inactions; these included a range of feelings: positive, mixed or ambivalent, negative, or neutral. Contributions to the organizational identity and identification literature are discussed and ten guidelines offered for practitioners in Catholic higher education who wish to foster their identities.