When identities collide: organizational and professional identity conflict and employee outcomes

Kathryn Ostermeier, Peter Anzollitto, Danielle Cooper, Julie Hancock

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Purpose: While many workers have both professional and organizational identities, which can have conflicting expectations, little is known about this specific and common form of identity conflict. The purpose of this research is to develop and test a measure of organizational and professional identity conflict (OPIC), which the authors define as a psychological conflict that individuals experience between who they feel they are supposed to be in their organization and who they feel they are supposed to be in their profession. The authors theorize that this identity conflict will lead to emotional exhaustion and psychological distress, further leading to turnover intentions. Design/methodology/approach: To test the hypothesized model, the authors utilized a two-study constructive replication design (Study 1, n = 225; Study 2, n = 176) and tested the model amongst both academics and health care professionals using structural equation modeling. Findings: The authors find that identity conflict is associated with both increased levels of emotional exhaustion and psychological distress and, consequently, increased turnover intentions. Practical implications: Practically, organizations must understand and align themselves with the wider professional expectations, as well as communicate this alignment, in order to avoid OPIC and improve employee well-being. Originality/value: The authors create and validate a measure to assess and show its detrimental effects on workplace outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2493-2511
Number of pages19
JournalManagement Decision
Volume61
Issue number9
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 24 2023

Keywords

  • Emotional exhaustion
  • Identity conflict
  • Psychological distress
  • Turnover intentions
  • Uncertainty-identity theory

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