March 22, 2022

3:00 p.m.

This event is for invited researchers only.

Scholar presenter:

Katrin Heucher, University of Michigan

Seed generators:

Allison S. Gabriel, University of Arizona
Wendy Smith, University of Delaware


Team (identity) work – The role of paradox in making, breaking and repairing team identity

Talk description:

From an 18-month organizational ethnography in a multinational company, several tensions related to the identity work of organizational teams and groups have emerged. Identity work intensifies in the face of threats, tensions, or conflict relevant to the identity. While we know that tensions occur, such as conflicting economic, environmental, and social concerns in corporate sustainability, further empirical research is needed to understand how team identity work is affected. The findings in this paper extend our previous knowledge of identity work by contributing to three aspects of identity work: Tensions and team identity work, intensifying team identity work, team identity crises and overcoming and repairing team identity. In particular, this study reveals how approaches to paradox ‘break and make’ a team identity. Paradoxes are defined as competing, yet interrelated elements that persist over time. Further, I find that an external trigger can be a catalyst for a team identity crisis when paradoxes are present. Thereby, I show that team identity work and relating tensions at the team level can be intensified by organizational issues and changes in boundary conditions. The findings necessitate a new conceptualization since previous frameworks are not able to explain the results of this study. I propose the notions of “team identity repair” and, even more, the additional potential of “team identity growth” in light of paradox.

Research is the heart of Positive Organizational Scholarship (POS), and we want to make sure that we support each other in developing high quality research. To that end, we created the Adderley Positive Research Incubator for sharing and encouraging POS-related research ideas that are at various stages of development.

Learn more about the Adderley Positive Research Incubators here and direct questions about individual sessions to