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2016/2017  KAN-CCMVV3015U  Cultivating Powerful Identities

English Title
Cultivating Powerful Identities

Course information

Language English
Course ECTS 7.5 ECTS
Type Elective
Level Full Degree Master
Duration One Semester
Start time of the course Autumn, Spring
Timetable Course schedule will be posted at calendar.cbs.dk
Study board
Study Board for MSc in Economics and Business Administration
Course coordinator
  • Roar Veiter Bovim - Department of Organization (IOA)
Kontaktinformation: https:/​/​e-campus.dk/​studium/​kontakt/​student-hub
Main academic disciplines
  • Human resource management
  • Management
  • Business psychology
Last updated on 11-04-2016
Learning objectives
To achieve the grade 12, students should meet the following learning objectives with no or only minor mistakes or errors:
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the central concepts, theories, models and perspectives presented in the course.
  • Demonstrate an ability to analyze practice-oriented situations and cases, using concepts, theories, models and perspectives discussed in the course.
  • Formulate effective solutions to problems or situations in regard to identity, using the concepts, theories, models and perspectives addressed in the course.
  • Deliver well‐structured and compelling written and oral presentations on identity associated issues, tailored to the needs of a specific audience.
Course prerequisites
Bachelor degree. Basic knowledge of organizational culture, organizational identity, and HRM is an advantage, but not a precondition for participation.
Cultivating Powerful Identities:
Exam ECTS 7,5
Examination form Oral exam based on written product

In order to participate in the oral exam, the written product must be handed in before the oral exam; by the set deadline. The grade is based on an overall assessment of the written product and the individual oral performance.
Individual or group exam Oral group exam based on written group product
Number of people in the group 2-4
Size of written product Max. 20 pages
Definition of number of pages:
Groups of
2 students 10 pages max.
3 students 15 pages max
4 students 20 pages max

The group project may either be a theoretical paper or a project based on an organization of your own choice.

Students who wish to have an individual exam might be able to write a term paper in the course. Please see the cand.merc. rules for term papers for more information.
Assignment type Project
Written product to be submitted on specified date and time.
15 min. per student, including examiners' discussion of grade, and informing plus explaining the grade
Preparation time No preparation
Grading scale 7-step scale
Examiner(s) Internal examiner and second internal examiner
Exam period Winter and Summer
Make-up exam/re-exam
Same examination form as the ordinary exam
Re-take exam is to be based on the same report as the ordinary exam:

* if a student is absent from the oral exam due to documented illness but has handed in the written group product she/he does not have to submit a new product for the re-take.

* if a whole group fails the oral exam they must hand in a revised product for the re-take.

* if one student in the group fails the oral exam the course coordinator chooses whether the student will have the oral exam on the basis of the same product or if he/she has to hand in a revised product for the re- take.
Course content and structure

Identities are often recognized as important. They function as sources of belonging and have been shown to enhance productivity, job satisfaction, cooperation, intentions to stay and knowledge sharing among others. Moreover, they provide a foundation for image, branding, reputation and strategy. If not managed well, however, identities can cause prejudice and division within organizations. Thus, for the top management, as well as the line manager and the HR consultant, it is crucial to establish a sense of ”Who are we?”, “What are we here for?” and “Where are we going?”, while avoiding organizational silos and “we are better than them”-thinking.


Identity cultivation and management is important for public and private, as well as small, medium and large organizations. However, in particular, identity management become crucial when the organization is a start-up, fast-growing, undergoing major changes, merging or taking over another business, experiencing external threats, expanding internationally, has new leaders, is culturally diverse or have cross-disciplinary or cross-organizational teams.


In this course, the students will learn how leaders, managers and HR consultants, can manage and facilitate identities in organizations based on an in-depth understanding of identity formation dynamics. Readings and lectures emphasize that the formation of identities is a complex issue, involving internal and external stakeholders, efforts of management, as well as the everyday practices of organizational members. Applying a broad approach, we move beyond organizational identities, exploring the often strong identity that can emerge in the unit, project, team, and work group.


Participants will examine this topic using a cross-disciplinary approach and become familiar with theories inspired by sociology as well as social-psychology. Drawing on a broad framework, we translate theory into specific managerial practices, e.g. HR-strategy, selection and training practices, ways of organizing work, and leadership practices. Moreover, the content of the course also applies to volunteer organizations.


The course will cover topics related to identity such as:

  • Developing unique and well-functioning communities at the workplace
  • Managing diversity and inclusion
  • Re-framing talent management: using the identity lens to improve HRM practices
  • Facilitating identity in R&D and knowledge-based organizations
  • Facilitating identity in production, engineering and service organizations
  • Managing identity during organizational change, e.g., re-structures, acquisitions and mergers
  • Identity complexity: cross-cutting & dual identities (e.g., matrix organizations), identities in informal groups
  • Organizational identity theory, the social identity theory, the self-categorization theory


This course's development of personal competences
This course stimulates the development of analytical skills as well as the ability to navigate through different, and sometimes incompatible, fields of research. At the same time, the participants will develop capabilities in the application and translation of theory into practice.

Teaching methods
The teaching will be interactive, include applications, discussions, and student presentations. Each week, we will study one or more cases from actual organizations, learning how concepts and models are related to practice. Participants will throughout the course be equipped with the competences and skills necessary for future managerial or HRM roles. To a great extent, we will work in groups, and the assigned group activities will require your full participation.
Student workload
Regular class sessions 33 hours
Reading of literature 128 hours
Other preparation prior to classes 10 hours
Preparation for and participation in exam 35 hours
Expected literature

Indicative literature in the course:

  • Albert, S. & Whetten, D. A. 1985. Organizational identity. In L. L. Cummings & B. M. Staw (eds.): Research in organizational behaviour, 7: 263-295. Greenwich, CT: JAI Press.
  • Ashforth, B. E., Harrison, S. H. & Corley, K. G. 2008. Identification in Organizations: An Examination of Four Fundamental Questions. Journal of Management, 34(3): 325-374.
  • Ashforth, B. E. and Kreiner, G. E. 1999. ”How can you do it?”: Dirty Work and the Challenge of Constructing a Positive Identity. Academy of Management Review, 24(3): 413-434.

  • Clark, S. M., Gioia, D. A., Ketchen, D. J. Jr. and Thomas, J. B. 2010. Transitional Identity as a Facilitator of Organizational Identity Change during a Merger. Administrative Science Quarterly, 55(3): 397-438.

  • Dutton, J. E. and Dukerich, J. M. 1991. Keeping an eye on the mirror: Image and identity in organizational adaptation. Academy of Management Journal, 34(3): 517-554.

  • Gioia, D. A., Patvardhan, S. D., Hamilton, A. L. and Corley, K. G. 2013. Organizational Identity Formation and Change. Academy of Management Annals, 7(1): 123-193.

  • Haslam, S. A. 2004. Chapter 2: The Social Identity Approach. In Psychology in Organizations, 2th edition, pp.17-39. Thousand Oaks, California: Sage Publications.

  • Millward, L. J. and Postmes, T. 2010. Who We Are Affects How We Do: The Financial Benefits of Organizational Identification. British Journal of Management, 21: 327-339.

  • Pratt, M. G. and Rafaeli, A. 1997. Organizational Dress as a Symbol of Multilayered Social Identities. Academy of Management Journal, 40(4): 862-898.

  • Ravasi, D. and Schultz, M. 2006. Responding to Organizational Identity Threats: Exploring the Role of Organizational Culture. Academy of Management Journal, 46(3): 433-458.

  • Tajfel, H. and Turner, J. C. 1979. An Integrative Theory of Intergroup Conflict. In W. G. Austin and S. Worchel (eds): The Social Psychology of Intergroup Relations, pp. 38-43.

Last updated on 11-04-2016