Get access

Organizational identification: Extending our understanding of social identities through social networks


  • Authorship is listed alphabetically and reflects the equal contribution of both authors to the paper.


Although organizational identification is founded on social identity and symbolic interactionist theories, current theories emphasize a social identity whereby organizational members categorize themselves and others based on roles and membership in an organization or work unit. In contrast symbolic interactionism, which resides in interpersonal relationships, is rarely theorized or empirically assessed in studies of organizational identification. We use survey data collected at an academic institution to explore how the strength and structure of an individual's social network both directly influences organizational identification as well as moderates the relation between social identity, or categorical, antecedents and organizational identification. Our results show that the size of an individual's network as well as the interaction between relationship strength and prestige better explain organizational identification than do antecedents based solely on categorization and social comparison processes. Thus networks of relationships, which have been a foundational but much neglected premise and process for organizational identification, are brought back into a theory of organizational identification. Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.