Survival in global high-tech industries requires many organizations to participate in specialized innovation networks. However, sustained participation in these networks often proves more challenging than expected for organizations and their representatives, due to complex cross-level identity tensions that are indiscernible when only one level of analysis is considered. The purpose of this study is to analyze cross-level identity tensions at the interface of personal and organizational identities in an innovation network. We identify three key cross-level identity tensions related to intellectual property, communication and market definition, which together contribute to an overall organizational-personal identity tension opposing differentiation and imitation. These tensions are indicative of a complex process of “partial isomorphism” in identity work, which can facilitate collaboration while simultaneously fostering innovation among personal and organizational network members.

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Scandinavian Journal of Management
Rotterdam School of Management (RSM), Erasmus University

Fortin, I., & Oliver, D. (David). (2016). To imitate or differentiate: Cross-level identity work in an innovation network. Scandinavian Journal of Management, 32(4), 197–208. doi:10.1016/j.scaman.2016.09.001