Understanding Identity and Organizations

by Kate Kenny, Andrea Whittle, Hugh Willmott

Electronic Inspection Copy available for instructors here

An understanding of identity is fundamental to a complete understanding of organizational life. While conventional management textbooks nod to in-groups, cohesion and discrimination, this text offers instead a deeper, more nuanced understanding of why people, groups and organizations behave the way they do.

With conceptions of identity perhaps less stable than they have ever been, the authors make complex theoretical issues accessible to the reader through the use of lively examples from popular culture. The authors present an overview of the key issues, as well as an examination of cutting-edge research and topical forces currently re-defining identity, such as globalisation, the fair trade movement and online identities.

This text is a succinct, relevant and exciting overview of the field of identity studies as it relates to business and management and applied social sciences, an is an invaluable resource to undergraduate and postgraduate students of management on any course that has an identity component.


  • SAGE Publications; December 2011
  • ISBN: 9781446266182
  • Edition: 1
  • Read online, or download in secure PDF or secure ePub format
  • Title: Understanding Identity and Organizations
  • Author: Kate Kenny; Andrea Whittle; Hugh Willmott
  • Imprint: SAGE Publications Ltd

In The Press

'As it elicited many thought provoking moments, before I was halfway through this book I had recommened it to a Masters degree student writing their dissertation (they reported it was fascinating) and used a variety of concepts in sessions (e.g organisational culture / leadership) facilitated in my role as a Staff Development Adviser...I would have no hesitation in endorsing this lively yet solid text to FE and HE students'
John Trantom
Action Learning: Research & Practice


'Identity is an extremely popular, but frequently misunderstood and misrepresented, concept in organization studies. This fantastic book is a much needed and timely antidote to this problem. It provides a thoughtful, accessible and thorough treatment of the phenomenon. It is an absolute "must read" for anyone who professes to be interested in studying or researching identity and organization's
Professor Cliff Oswick
Professor in Organization Theory, Head of the Faculty of Management, Cass Business School, City University


'Organizations are not just places we go to make money, but places where we make ourselves too. This helpful book explores the ways in which identities are worked upon, and show how many of our ideas about "who we are" emerge from our lives at work'
Professor Martin Parker
Warwick Business School


'I am impressed by this accessible and thoroughly scholarly text. It introduces students to highly complex theoretical ideas in a way that is immediately relevant to everyday organizational life. I look forward to teaching with this book'
Professor Samantha Warren
University of Essex


'Understanding Identity and Organizations maps the territory laid out by identity research as it applies to organizations and points to new areas of interest and concern. An essential guide for those entering the field of organizational identity studies as well as providing an overview of the field for seasoned identity researchers'
Mary Jo Hatch
Professor Emerita of Banking and Commerce, University of Virginia


'Understanding Identity and Organization gives us for the first time a complete and sophisticated overview of the key topics and debates around identity at work. In a lively, accessible and always scholarly fashion, the authors have captured the fundamental importance of this often neglected aspect of employment. It is essential reading for anyone studying organizations today'
Professor Peter Fleming
Queen Mary College, University of London