fingerprint IdentityOrganizational identity and organizational identification, two terms which look the same but describe different processes within an organization.  Both processes are integral to successfully carrying out an organization’s mission.  The difference between the two is what the organization and its employees perceive the organization to be and what employees value and develop the organization.  Basically, organizational identity is the concretely managed image of the firm and its operational system; whereas, organizational identification is the abstract bond which employees attach to the everyday experience of working with the organization.

The one of the foremost scholars in researching the interactions between organizational identity and organizational identification is Blake Ashforth of W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University.  He finds that both are essential, but at different times and directed toward different goals.  Below is a brief comparison between the two which focuses on method of implementation and results of implementation.

Organizational Identification Organizational Identity
  • Post-hire
  • Pre-hire or new hire
  • Occurs more at the management scale since supervisors are the biggest contributor or detractor from employee organizational identification
  • Occurs more at the executive scale and influences hiring choice
  • Develops through employees’ experience at work, especially the social connections built through daily tasks and interactions and employee/supervisor bond
  • Occurs during orientation or formal training programs
  • Facilitates cooperation and collaboration
  • Facilitates conception and strategic action
  • Directs self-conscious efforts to make decisions consistent with organizational objectives
  • Improves organizational effectiveness and decision making by providing the context for employees’ choices regarding organization and operational issues
  • Increases personal attachment to organization as a method of retaining employees
  • Relies on conditions such as salary, location of organization, and career enhancement to retain employees
  • Directly influences employees’ behavior
  • Provides context for decision making and influences the premise which underlie employees’ choices regarding organization and operational issues

This information suggests that developing an optimum corporate culture depends as much on board room decisions as it does on “water cooler talk.”  Even though most organizations and business training depend on the upper management to implement avenues for employee loyalty and productivity, establishing a organization culture which uses a holistic approach, not just formal employee training or upper-management brainstorming session translates into employees proactive decisions to increase company value.

To read Ashforth’s article, “Bosses and Bonding: Relationships Prove Key to Employees’ Organizational Identification” click here