Discourses of disrupted identities in the practice of strategic change: The mayor, the street-fighter and the insider-out

Nic Beech, Phyl Johnson

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    51 Citations (Scopus)


    Purpose - To explore identity dynamics in the lived experience of a strategic change over time. Design/methodology/approach - Qualitative data were collected through a longitudinal engagement with the focal organisation. Narrative analysis was used to trace the identity dynamics of senior figures in an organisation as it went through strategic change. This entailed a change of CEO and chairman, alterations to the composition of the board and the executive team and, in association with these changes in personnel, alterations to the strategy and direction of the company. Findings - The identity dynamics were at times comfortable and uncomfortable fits for the individuals involved, and over time expectations and realisations impacted on the processes of change in ways that were unexpected and unintentional for the actors. The outcome of the analysis shows the disruptive impact of identity dynamics on the practice of strategic change. Research limitations - The nature of the research undertaken does not seek to represent a holistic case study but, rather, is focused on a depth analysis of selected interactional data. Practical implications - A critique of traditional views of resistance to change is presented and an alternative approach to analysing reactions to change is proposed. Originality/value - The paper contributes a narrative approach to the discursive analysis of strategic change. It also elaborates the significance of "identity work" in such settings.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)31-47
    Number of pages17
    JournalJournal of Organizational Change Management
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2005


    • Change management
    • Narratives
    • Work identity


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