Identification work in construction industry: Ideal selves, project performance, and disidentification
Journal article, 2012
Purpose – Organizations are sites where identities are constructed and maintained and a substantial literature points at identity work as being of central importance for managerial practice. Identities are often fragile and contingent constructs, shifting over time and as the actor moves between assignments, being bound up with professional and occupational ideologies, norm and beliefs. The purpose of this paper is to report a study of how construction workers build their occupational identities on the basis of a combination of identification with their work and the quality they deliver benefitting the end-user and what Elsbach and Bhattacharya call disidentification, i.e. a critique of the construction industry.
Design/methodology/approach – A study of identity work in the construction industry suggests that identities are based on three interrelated processes, the enactment of normative beliefs of ideal selves, the recognition of the accomplishments in the present construction project work, and the disidentification with the construction industry articulated in storytelling practices.
Findings – Construction workers’ identities are thus a patchwork, stitching together a variety of heterogeneous resources. This makes identity work an ongoing social process influenced by both the material conditions of the actual work and norms, beliefs, and aspirations.
Originality/value – The paper contributes to the identity literature by emphasizing that identities are irreducible to either material conditions, norm and beliefs, or narrative accounts but are simultaneously drawing on all these resources.