How does identification with an organization enhance values?

June 15, 2011

Strongly identifying with an organization or workplace can change people's lives in profound ways, according to a new study in the Journal of Consumer Research.

"Managers often hope that consumers identify with organizations they regularly patronize, and firms sometimes encourage labor to encourage employees to identify with firms they work for, because in both cases organizations benefit from such identification," write authors Melea Press and Eric J. Arnould (both University of Wyoming, Laramie). The authors focus on identification formation from the perspective of consumers, whose personal, economic, and social lives are affected by organizations.

The authors conducted interviews with consumers who had recently joined a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program. They also interviewed employees at an advertising agency, at all levels from receptionist to CEO.

In the interviews, the authors learned how consumers learn to integrate values and behaviors from within and beyond the organization, often in life-changing ways. "So, a new CSA member learns how and why he should appreciate locally grown organic vegetables, and then begins to find additional opportunities to buy other organic and locally made products more generally," the authors explain.

"Similarly, an employee learns the value of making clear, considered, and creative choices and brings that value into her as she reduces her consumer debt and even makes better choices for ," the authors explain.

For some , identification comes suddenly, as an epiphany, whereas others take more gradual paths, emulating who are forging new ways of living. For example, over time, a CSA member who was a workaholic could use his experience with the organization to help assess his lifestyle and end up dramatically cutting back his work schedule to spend time with his family.

Explore further: Talking to ourselves: How consumers navigate choices and inner conflict

More information: Melea Press and and Eric J. Arnould. "How Does Organizational Identification Form? A Consumer Behavior Perspective." Published online May 11, 2011. Journal of Consumer Research: December 2011.

Related Stories

What does signing your name mean in the marketplace?

March 17, 2011

Signing your name on the dotted line heightens your sense of self and leads to purchase behavior that affirms your self-identity, according to a new study in the Journal of Consumer Research. But signing can reduce engagement ...

Recommended for you

Who you gonna trust? How power affects our faith in others

October 6, 2015

One of the ongoing themes of the current presidential campaign is that Americans are becoming increasingly distrustful of those who walk the corridors of power – Exhibit A being the Republican presidential primary, in which ...

Ancient genome from Africa sequenced for the first time

October 8, 2015

The first ancient human genome from Africa to be sequenced has revealed that a wave of migration back into Africa from Western Eurasia around 3,000 years ago was up to twice as significant as previously thought, and affected ...

From a very old skeleton, new insights on ancient migrations

October 9, 2015

Three years ago, a group of researchers found a cave in Ethiopia with a secret: it held the 4,500-year-old remains of a man, with his head resting on a rock pillow, his hands folded under his face, and stone flake tools surrounding ...

Mexican site yields new details of sacrifice of Spaniards

October 9, 2015

It was one of the worst defeats in one of history's most dramatic conquests: Only a year after Hernan Cortes landed in Mexico, hundreds of people in a Spanish-led convey were captured, sacrificed and apparently eaten.


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.