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Management Essay: Individuals Engaging in Identity Workplace


Task: Write a management essay discussing how, when, and why individuals engage in identity work in organizations, occupations and careers. Develop your discussion to include resilience and well-being at work.


In the corporate environment, self-positioning of employees has become one of the important part. Along with self-positioning and identity of an individual at a workplace is necessary. Employee focus on engaging themselves into the identity work in the organization to meet the needs and demands of the organization. Another main objective of self-positioning in the organization is to accomplish the mission and vision that has been set by the management team of the organization.Employees in an organization are enjoined for the development of their self-images, so that they can align with the managerial defined objectives. This further helps them in the development of their career. There are several notions that are focused on control over the behavior of employees by the management team of the organization (Wasserman&Frenkel, 2011). The main aim of this report is to critically analyse when, why and how individuals working in an organization can engage themselves in identity work of the organization, occupations or in their career. The critical analysis will be done with the help of several theories that are related to identity at workplace. The essay will also discuss the concepts of resilience and well-being of an individual at the workplace.

Individuals engaging in identity work
When an employee joins an organization, the individuals consist of several layers of self-identity. An identity of an individual can be inherited, it can be developed by the choice of the employee and it can also be formed on the basis of the place from where the individual belong. There are several types of an identity that an individual can have. The first one is personal identity i.e. the identity that is the identity of an individual. The second one is social identity. The identity that of an individual i.e. formed when the person is in a group is known as social identity. In the current situation another identity that is formed within an individual is online identity (Marwick, 2013). The identity i.e. developed within an individual while communicating in any social media platform is known as online identity.

A huge section of employees while working in any organization thinks that people work to maintain their livelihood, but most of the people does not realize that a person must work not only for their livelihood but also for other people. Therefore, individuals are generally identified by the work they do.Individuals develop their identity according to the situations they come across but work of an individual helps him or her to develop as a person. Work also helps an individual to give a focus for personal expression. It also helps an individual to define their nature. Thus, it can be said that work of an organization plays a great role in defining the identity of that person.

Furthermore, researchers across the world have started a recent study related to finding out the work identity of an employee on the basis of their dressing style, decoration done in their office desks and many more. Work identity is important among individuals when there are several events like organizational change, promotions and transfers within the organization takes place (Ibarra&Barbulescu, 2010). The following part of the report focus on analysing the engagement of individual in an organization with the help of 3 different theories.

Social identity theory (SIT) is considered to be an important theory where a group member tries to demean the members of another group so that their self-image is enhanced. Stereotyping, social influence, deviance and motivation is considered to be a part of social identity theory (Abrams&Hogg, 2010). In an organization social-identity theory can be useful. This tool helps to boost the self-confidence of an individual and also improve the attitudes of an employee According to SIT, self-esteem of an individual is built not only on the basis of their personal characteristics but also on the basis of the group in which the individual belong. In an organization, groups or teams are given a certain job, duties or responsibilities and they are motivated in the similar way to do the job. In such cases, an individual focus on supporting their team member and increase their self-esteem while they are a part of the group. According to the SIT it has been found that there exists a negative correlation between the identification of an individual in the group and depression of the workplace (McNeill, Kerr &Mavor, 2014). That means with the increase in the self-identification of an individual in a group the depression of that individual decreases.

Furthermore, there is a negative aspect of this theory. Well-being at workplace and workplace bullying are considered to be two major aspects in the current business environment. According to SIT, workplace bullying and decrease in self-esteem of an individual might occur in an organization. If one person in a group is targeted and bullied in a group, then the self-esteem of that individual decreases and this can lead to decrease in the productivity of that employee. Bullying effects, the social identity of a person in a negative way. It has been found that workplace bullying is similar to the bullying that are faced by several children at their respective school. It generally takes place by ganging up against one particular employee or children (Jones, Manstead&Livingstone, 2011). Such situations, effect the identity of an individual in a negative way and due to these situation employees often exit from the organization.

Furthermore, individual resilience can be aligned with the social identity theory. When several social factors as well as psychological factors contributes to an individual’s ability to adapt a certain situation and overcome the difficulties it is termed as individual resilience. Individual resilience among citizens or employees within an organization can be promoted with the help of social support. For example, the prime minister of New Zealand, JacindaArdern announced that the government of New Zealand will focus on introducing the well-being budget for the citizens of New Zealand. The primary aim of this budget is tackle an important situation like social exclusion (Tamkin, 2019). Therefore, an individual can also be resilient at workplace if the management team comes out in support of that person.

The next theory that has been taken into consideration for the essay is narrative identity theory. According to Narrative Identity Theory (NIT), an identity of an individual is created by integrating the personal experiences of that particular individual. The individuality of a person is created with the help of reconstructed past, perceived present and the future i.e. imagined. In an organization, or in the career of an individual, the person often tries to engage himself or herself in the identity work with the help of their personal experiences that have been gathered before. A huge section of employees has lost the narrative thread in their professional field. Employees often feel lost when they try to make any new decisions regarding their career development. For example, when an individual want to develop their career and tries to leave one organization and joins another one then, he or she sometimes become confused regarding their decisions. Employees often focus on narrating a good story that gives positive outcome of the decisions. In such cases, Narrative Identity Theory comes into action. This theory is often used by an individual to narrate the decisions that has been taken by him or her previously and how it was useful. Another major advantage of this NIT is it helps the individual to behave like water (Ibarra, 2015). That means an individual should focus on behaving in the organization or in a group according to the situation.

On the contrary, this theory can also have a negative outcome for an individual. According to NIT, an employee or an individual working in an organization tends to narrated decisions on the basis of their past experiences and also try to align those experiences with the future expectations. If an employee has less productive career experiences that does not mean that the future of that employee remains the same but as per NIT, the employee might be afraid to take any bold decision related to his or her career due to their past experience. This can reduce the well-being of the individual. In the minds of the millennials optimism is reducing day by day. They are focused on narrating stories that have negative outcomes in their career and well-being. Almost 65% millennials think that technologies have a negative impact on their health. They think that if they can reduce the use of mobile phones then it can increase their level of performance at their workplace and also their career (Deloitte, 2019). They also have a tendency to leave an organization and join another that aligns with their career visions and goals. In such situations NIT comes into action.

The final theory that can be used for the essay is critical theory perspective. When an individual focus on digging beneath the surface of the social life and tries to understand the process in which the world works is termed as critical theory perspective. The true understanding of several actions of the world is included in this theory. According to critical theory, people mainly engage themselves in identity work to maintain continuality and individuality. When an individual want to shape their identity they focus on following this theory. Thus, it can be said that in this theory an employee tends to develop a correntmindset by understanding the right and wrong that is happening in the workplace (Mcewen, 2011). This is considered to be brave in nature. According to this theory, people tend to engage in the identity work when they focus on resisting or engaging with attempts. Even if an employee starts working in an organization that have good management but still there are several critical problems that exist. The problems include lack of vision of the employees related to the career, the rise workhalism among several employees, employees are forced to work over time when the pressure in the organization is high and this often demotivates and hamper the well-being of an individual and the final critical problem is influence of the ethos of work on the ethical behaviour of an employee. In several parts of the world, organizations often try to exploit employees by providing them less wages and not giving them leisure time but when power is there, resistance will also be there (Boussebaa&Brown, 2016). Employees can resist the decisions if they feel that they are being exploited by the organization.

Furthermore, according to this theory the social norms are often challenged by individuals. Employees often negotiate with the management team of the organization to keep their identities at their workplace. For example, previous year, several solicitor working in Aotearoa Legal firms raised their voices because they were paid less in this law firm. A lawyer named Robert complained that in spite of working for 55 hours a week the wages provided to him is minimum. Big law firms focus not to increase the wage of their solicitors and if they want more salary they are asked to leave. Robert thought that this exploitation should end so he raised his voice (Mau, 2019). This is one of the major example that can be aligned with the critical identity theory.There are several other examples where exploitation of labours and workers take place. Therefore, it can be said that the business leaders often fail to focus on sustainable business practices. In such case employees often focus on engaging resources from communities and starts performing community resilience. That means collective actions are taken by the employees or the workers who are exploited.Despite, having several advantages this theory can also have a negative aspect. If employees within the organization, wants to resist situations that they think is not appropriate then it can lead to several conflicting situations within the organization.It can often lead to termination of the employees within the workplace. Career resilience has a solid relationship with employability (Kobus, 2017). Therefore, it can be said that one of the negative aspect of critical theory is it often effects the well-being of an individual.

Furthermore, it can be said that career resilience and well-being of an individual in the workplace is of utmost importance. A healthy workplace, focus on promoting stress-free and healthy work environment. In several researches it has been found that the stress at workplace has raised to 23.5% i.e. considered to be depressing. This can also reduce productivity of employees at workplace. Several reasons that hamper the well-being of an individual at workplace is workload, lack of training, relationships with the members at the workplace and many more. Currently, outbreak of coronavirus and lockdown has become another major pressure at workplace. A huge number of organizations are terminating its employees. Psychological resilience is often used by the employees to overcome this stress but still it is persisting and leading to reduction of employee productivity. Resilience at workplace is leading to professional growth even after experiencing several adversities at the workplace.To reduce stress at workplace and initiate well-being, resilience can help because it is a result of relational empowerment. It helps an individual to develop a career narrative that is flexible in nature (Lengelle,Van der Heijden&Meijers, 2017). There are 4 domains resilience that helps in enhancing well-being of employees at the workplace. The four domain include Physical, emotional, spiritual and mental.

Furthermore, with the help of these domains, individuals can reduce their mental stress, by increasing their emotional stability, ability to focus and many more. To engage oneself in a group or in an organization, it is the responsibility of the employee to enact their personal values, employ the personal efficacy and invest in the personal energy. This helps an individual to strengthen their self-identity skills.

The main aim of this essay was to discuss when, how and why an individual or an employee can engage themselves in the identity work. The critical analysis is done on the basis of 3 different theories. While analysing it has been found that each of the selected theory has a positive as well as negative aspect. It can be concluded that Social Identity Theory can increase the self-esteem of the person if the individual is fitted well in the group or in a team of the organization but if other members of the group starts ganging up against one particular individual then it can reduce the self-esteem of the individual. In case of narrative theory an individual tends to engage themselves after narrating their past experiences and their present perception but according to this theory if an individual has a negative past then he or she might be afraid to engage themselves into something positive. Finally, critical perspective theory has been considered where individuals focus on standing for something that is right. As per this theory, individuals might engage themselves into negative scenarios and their career might get affected due to this which will further reduce their well-being at workplace. ?

Abrams, D., & Hogg, M. A. (2010). Social identity and self-categorization (pp. 179-93). The SAGE handbook of prejudice, stereotyping and discrimination.

Boussebaa, M., & Brown, A. D. (2016). Englishization, Disciplinary Power and Identity Work. In Academy of Management Proceedings (Vol. 2016, No. 1, p. 10592).

Deloitte, (2019), The Deloitte Global Millennial Survey 2019.[online]. Ibarra, H. (2015). Act like a leader, think like a leader. Harvard Business Review Press.

Ibarra, H., &Barbulescu, R. (2010). Identity as narrative: Prevalence, effectiveness, and consequences of narrative identity work in macro work role transitions. Academy of management review, 35(1), 135-154.

Jones, S. E., Manstead, A. S., & Livingstone, A. G. (2011). Ganging up or sticking together? Group processes and children's responses to text?message bullying. British Journal of Psychology, 102(1), 71-96.

Kobus, M. (2017). The Psychology of Career Adaptability, Career Resilience, and Employability: A Broad Overview. Psychology of Career Adaptability, Employability and Resilience, 3-11. doi:10.1007/978-3-319-66954-0_1.

Lengelle R., Van der Heijden B.I.J.M., Meijers F. (2017) The Foundations of Career Resilience. In: Maree K. (eds) Psychology of Career Adaptability, Employability and Resilience. Springer, Cham.

Marwick, A. E. (2013). Online identity. A companion to new media dynamics, 355-364.

Mau, A., (2019), Lawyers are working ‘less than minimum wage’, new union claims. [online]. Mcewen, K. (2011). Chapter 2: Reframing problems: Developing the right mindset, Building Resilience at Work, Australian Academic Press.

McNeill, K. G., Kerr, A., &Mavor, K. I. (2014). Identity and norms: the role of group membership in medical student wellbeing. Perspectives on medical education, 3(2), 101-112. doi: 10.1007/s40037-013-0102-z

Tamkin, E., (2019), New Zealand's resilience and social connection makes it one of the happiest countries.[online].


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