Organizational identity struggles and reconstruction during organizational change: Narratives as symbolic, emotional and practical glue

Jette Ernst, Astrid Jensen

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review


The article offers a novel perspective on the formation of organizational identity (OI) during major organizational change. The empirical context of our studies is the establishment of a new acute care department and the reorganization of care, where nurses and managers struggle to construct and reclaim a legitimate identity within the hospital and simultaneously strive to gain a leading position among acute care departments in the country. We use Bourdieu’s theoretical ideas combined with a focus on narratives as an original and fertile perspective for studying OI. We propose that OI is inherently temporal, embodied and socially configured and cannot be separated from the institutionalized context of its setting because it is interlaced with (in this case) health professional logics. We show how OI is constructed through the strategizing moves of managers and nurses. This includes their narrative constructions of their quest for care progression and a legitimate OI that function as symbolic, emotional and practical glue.

Bourdieu, hospital department, narratives, nursing, organizational change, organizational identity, strategizing
Original languageEnglish
JournalOrganization Studies
Issue number6
Pages (from-to)891-910
Number of pages20
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2021
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2019.


  • Bourdieu
  • hospital department
  • narratives
  • nursing
  • organizational change
  • organizational identity
  • strategizing

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