Corporate identity remains a central theme for understanding the evolution and legitimisation of the management consulting industry. Emerging sectors like Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) remain particularly prominent as they challenge existing socio-cognitive paradigms about acceptable norms, values and behaviours. However, the process of achieving entry into an emerging sector is not well understood because little is currently known about the social construction of corporate identity at an organisational or at an individual level.
At the organisational level, this project adopts a process perspective for investigating the construction of corporate identity, where the interplay between institutional and interpersonal factors contributes towards shaping CSR’s construction and legitimation.
At the individual level the project seeks to examine the case of client identity and its transition during the course of a consulting engagement. By exploring the client as a multi-faceted entity, the project focuses on the study of individual and collective actions and reactions. Moreover, it examines how such reactions shape client identification with the parent organisation but also with consultants in different phases of the consulting project. The project identifies the shifting fluctuations of identity during critical instances that contribute to the creation of identity attachment and detachment.
The objectives of this research are to:
The emergence of new sectors, like CSR, become prominent targets of consulting entry because they help redefine a corporation’s legitimisation with its stakeholders and differentiate itself from its competitors.
There are three areas of activity that contribute to the social construction of corporate identity. These are:
Client transitions of corporate identity remain highly contingent on the way consultants challenge internal ties that members hold and which are not made explicit prior, during or after the consulting intervention.
Dr Stephanos Avakian
Dr Jenny Knight
Dr Stephanos Avakian delivered a conference paper relating to this research at the EGOS (European Group of Organisational Studies) 2014 event in Rotterdam, Netherlands.