Comparative cross-cultural studies and identity research in social psychology focused on national and organizational differences, clashes and dimensions (Hofstede, Barsoux & Schneider, Jackson, Ward, Bochner & Furnham, Capoza & Brown). Mapping cultural software of individuals and dynamics of small groups was supposed to provide additional managerial knowledge and skills indispensable for global expansion of stable organizational bureaucracies. However, social constructivists and critical social scientists have also exposed a contingent nature of managerial skills in complex and chaotic environments and demonstrated arbitrariness of sense-making in organizations (cf. Weick, Hatch). Increasing frequency of individual interactions and accelerated evolution of organizational forms drew attention of research communities to the unhealthy (irrational, pathological) paradoxes of what used to be considered healthy organizational identities (Alvesson, de Vries, Gabriel, Carr). Problems of identity and identization (cf. Honneth, Sievers, van Riel) acquired growing significance viewed against the background of three paradoxes. First, managerial ideologies call for flexible networks of empowered individuals, but managerialist ideologies tacitly support hierarchic control. Second, there is no sustainable "fit" between new psychologized individualism and evolving "organizationalism" (Leinberger & Tucker). Robust identities and sustainable fit are continually challenged by unhealthy shadows of authoritarian "psychostructures" and dominant forms of organizationalism (Negri, Melucci, Stehr, Beck). Third, emergent alliances in social and managerial sciences have not succeeded yet in changing the methodological and ethical landscape of research in order to challenge dominant modes of organizing, social embedding and self-reflection. Such a shift could offer insights into the unhealthy paradoxes of healthy identities assumed by functionalists and criticized by constructivists, contingency theoreticians and evolutionists (Abrahamsson, Boje,Featherstone, Clark & Fincham, Denzin & Lincoln).

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ERIM Report Series Research in Management
Erasmus Research Institute of Management

Magala, S.J. (2003). Unhealthy Paradoxes of Healthy Identities (No. ERS-2003-054-ORG). ERIM Report Series Research in Management. Retrieved from