Winds of change: The critical function of role identity management in strategic change | HES⁠-⁠SO Fachhochschule Westschweiz

Winds of change: The critical function of role identity management in strategic change

EHL, Nicole Rosenkranz, 01.09.2018 - 31.08.2021
FNS Division 1 : Sciences humaines et sociales


Qualitative research, Strategic change, Inductive case study, Role identity 


To remain sustainably competitive, strategies demand adaptations over time as external requirements change (e.g., technological shifts, industry consolidations, regulatory adjustments, etc.). Yet, 3 out of 4 strategic change initiatives conducted by organizations fail; leading to a waste of crucial resources, performance reductions and in the worst case liquidation.
In deliberately attempting to alter an organization’s existing routines, cognitive frames, and capabilities, strategic changes challenge the fundamental claims employees make about their organization – in other words – the organizational identity. While the implications of strategic changes on organizational identity (and vice versa) are well researched, the micro implications for the role identities employees hold remains a terrain less explored. Role identities are the values, beliefs, and norms an employee attributes a prototypical person in his/her function. Consequently, these deeply held assumptions employees have about their role within the organizational context and how they are expected to contribute to the success of the organization, substantially affects the way people behave and the goals they pursue. Recent research including studies by the grant applicant show that a crucial aspect of the successful execution of strategic changes lies in the support of organizational employees. As strategic changes are processes organizations repeatedly face over the course of an organizational lifespan, it is imminent that we need to generate a better understanding of how employees – in altering and possibly re-defining their role identities – support or hinder strategic changes.





Economie d'entreprise, Psychologie 

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