Interactions between work and identities: Thriving, withering, or redefining the self?

By: Mari Kira, David B.Balkin


Interactions between work and identities are an important topic as a result of their influence on both employees’ well-being and organizational performance. However, there is a lack of theorizing that comprehensively charts the processes and outcomes of work and identity interactions.

In this paper, we formulate an integrated conceptual model of interactions between work and identities, employee reactions to them, and subsequent outcomes. In our model, we bring together well-known and under-examined aspects of work and identity interactions. The model explains how such varied outcomes as employee thriving and withering, and both subjugated and empowered identities derive from encounters between work and identities. The model makes it possible to assess the possible benefits and side-effects of human resource management practices that seek to align work with the worker, and supports human resource managers in distinguishing the positive potential in situations where employees find their work misaligning with their identities.