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Identities, Genres, and Organizational Forms

Greta Hsu and Michael T. Hannan
Organization Science
Vol. 16, No. 5, Frontiers of Organization Science, Part 2 of 2 (Sep. - Oct., 2005), pp. 474-490
Published by: INFORMS
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/25145987
Page Count: 17
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Identities, Genres, and Organizational Forms
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Abstract

In recent years, there has been an increasing emphasis within organizational ecology on identity as a fundamental basis for the conceptualization and identification of organizational forms. This paper highlights the benefits of an identity-based conceptualization of organizational forms and outlines an identity-based agenda for organizational ecology. We begin by discussing fundamental properties of organizational identity, drawing extensively from the formal-theoretical conceptualization proposed by Pólos et al. (2002). We then build on this foundation by proposing a number of systematic ways in which forms can be specified and differentiated in terms of identity. We also address the challenge of measuring forms by discussing various approaches researchers may use to assess the beliefs contemporaneous audiences hold regarding organizational identities. This paper concludes with a discussion of research questions revolving around three issues core to an ecological approach to organizations: (1) the emergence of identities, (2) the persistence of identities, and (3) the strategic trade-offs among different types of identities.

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