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Categorical identity change: the privatization of Royal Mail

Radic, Mislav (2019) Categorical identity change: the privatization of Royal Mail. Academy of Management Proceedings, 2019 (1). ISSN 0065-0668

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Identification Number: 10.5465/AMBPP.2019.11597abstract


This paper uses findings from a longitudinal case study of the privatization of Royal Mail – the British national postal service organization – to examine internal dynamics triggered by categorical identity changes. By categorical identity change, I refer to changes that alter structural features that determine organizational membership in a particular category, thereby subjecting the organization to a partly new set of rules and expectations, from partly new audiences. This study uncovered the symbolic (e.g. attribution of status and meaning) and substantive (e.g. allocation of resources and discretion) implications of such changes, and how they reflected in a discursive struggle between the employees and the leadership of the organization over “who we are” as an organization, which, at the time of our study, five years after the change, was still ongoing and partly unresolved. By doing so, the findings provide insights into the previously under-theorized substantive implications of organizational identity claims and their role in discursive identity struggles.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2019 Academy of Management
Divisions: Management
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor
Date Deposited: 09 Jun 2021 08:27
Last Modified: 13 Sep 2021 23:15

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