Organizational Identity and Culture in the Context of
Managed Change: Transformation in the
Carlsberg Group, 2009–2013

Abstract

 

This article presents top and middle managers’ experiences and understandings of how organizational identity and culture were entangled with transformational change as it unfolded over a 5-year period in Carlsberg Group. Combining ethnography and grounded theory methods with engaged scholarship, our work sits between research and practice, speaking directly to the experience of managers at the same time that it researches both the content and processes of organizational identity and culture. The study shows that engaging in processes of reflecting, questioning, and debating about their organization’s identity led middle managers and employees both to support and resist new organizational identity claims made by top management. Within these identity activation processes we found frequent references relating new identity claims to organizational culture. Further analysis of the data revealed tensions of intention, pacing, and focus arising between the “old” culture and new claims, as well as evidence that cultural change mechanisms, including dis-embedding, dis-enchanting, and disrespecting the “old” culture, had been used. We conclude that organizational identity and culture were related in complex ways that have been overlooked by prior research; and that our approach of focusing on their relationship and the processes through which that relationship evolved opens new territory both to research and practice.

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Authors: Mary Jo Hatch, Majken Schultz, Anne-Marie Skov