Organizational life entails complex, informal processes that can define an organization just as much as its basic operational premises. To investigate these phenomena, this dissertation begins with a systematic literature review that critically investigates how the formation and strength of an organization’s identity is associated with value creation, providing a multi-level and multi-theory framework.
It then delves into a case study of the European response to arriving refugees on the Greek island of Lesbos. It explores the hidden mechanisms that are at play in a hyper-complex, multi-level stakeholder setting, investigates how the global grand challenge of forced displacement can trigger deeply felt emotions, and how such emotions impact individuals’ sensemaking and coping strategies.
Such fieldwork makes researchers part of the setting, exposing them to the same situations and possibly triggering similar strong emotions. The dissertation therefore also explores the impact of extreme context research on researchers’ emotions and sensemaking and argues for not only using emotions retrospectively, as a means of validation in the context of reflexivity, but also as productive components for theory building.
As a whole, this dissertation aims to combine these perspectives on informal, less obvious and rarely scrutinized dynamics in order to shed some light onto under-researched but highly influential elements of organizational life.

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J.P. Cornelissen (Joep) , G. Belschak-Jacobs (Gabriele)
Erasmus University Rotterdam
RSM PhD Series in Research in Management
Rotterdam School of Management (RSM), Erasmus University

Langenbusch, C. (2020, April 2). A lot to lose : Organizational identity and emotions in institutional contexts (No. 3). RSM PhD Series in Research in Management. Retrieved from