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2024/2025  KAN-CCMVV2430U  Identity Lab: Navigating Power, Hierarchy and Diversity

English Title
Identity Lab: Navigating Power, Hierarchy and Diversity

Course information

Language English
Course ECTS 7.5 ECTS
Type Elective
Level Full Degree Master
Duration One Semester
Start time of the course Autumn
Timetable Course schedule will be posted at calendar.cbs.dk
Max. participants 150
Study board
Study Board for cand.merc. and GMA (CM)
Course coordinator
  • Sara Louise Muhr - Department of Organization (IOA)
  • Syed Salman Ahmad - Department of Organization (IOA)
Academic questions regarding the elective should be sent to Salman Ahmad (ssah.ioa@cbs.dk)
Main academic disciplines
  • Human resource management
  • Intercultural studies
  • Organisational behaviour
Teaching methods
  • Face-to-face teaching
Last updated on 20-02-2024

Relevant links

Learning objectives
After completion of this course, students should be able to:
  • Demonstrate an ability to see the dynamics of identity, power, hierarchy and diversity in organisational systems.
  • Appreciate the role identity plays in the lived experience of power and privilege in organisational systems.
  • Understand the structural as well as agentic determinants of the human experiences of dominance and suppression, inclusion and exclusion.
  • Develop a strategy to further inclusion, engagement and partnership across organisational hierarchies and units.
Identity Lab: Navigating Power, Hierarchy and Diversity:
Exam ECTS 7,5
Examination form Home assignment - written product
Individual or group exam Individual exam
Size of written product Max. 15 pages
Assignment type Written assignment
Release of assignment An assigned subject is released in class
Duration Written product to be submitted on specified date and time.
Grading scale 7-point grading scale
Examiner(s) One internal examiner
Exam period Winter
Make-up exam/re-exam
Same examination form as the ordinary exam
*if the student fails the ordinary exam the course coordinator chooses whether the student will have to hand in a revised product for the re- take or a new project.
Description of the exam procedure

Students will be given prompts upon which they can base their written assignment. These prompts will be anchored in the overall objectives of the course. Students will have the freedom to pick one or more prompts to write their assignment and can discuss their ideas with the instructor.

Course content, structure and pedagogical approach

This is an immersive, experiential learning course in which we will explore the dynamics of identity and power as they unfold across visible and invisible hierarchies, and across diversity in organisational systems. The course will also explore how identity-based tensions rooted in hierarchies and in differing ideologies can emerge in conflicts and how the information in these conflicts can be used to create powerful emerging solutions to organisational problems.


The course will be based on two full-day immersive learning experiences, both of which are actually used in many Fortune 500 corporations in their leadership and organisational development initiatives. These immersive experiences will then be unfolded over debriefs in 5 half-day sessions. The course will be run in 2 modules along with introductory and concluding sessions. Following are the details:


Introduction: One half day session (3 teaching hours) introducing participants to the various themes of the course and preparing them for the experiential workshops.


Module 1: Power and Hierarchy (one full-day session of 6 teaching hours followed by two half-day sessions of 3 teaching hours each)


This module will kick-off with a full-day immersive experiential workshop where participants take on roles of either top executives, middle managers, workers or customers of an organisation, interacting in a chaotic, fast-paced environment, experiencing situations that regularly occur in ‘real-life’ work positions. Participants get to experience and reflect upon the structural conditions of complexity and accountability of top executives, the ‘being torn’ condition of middle managers as they strive to please both sides, the condition of vulnerability of workers and the condition of neglect that customers often encounter. It gets them out of their heads and into their guts, actually experiencing the structural demands of various roles in an organisational ecosystem. The learning from the experience will then be unfolded over two half-day sessions using various theoretical lenses of looking at power and identity. We will also apply the learning from the above to an actual business case.


Module 2: Power and Diversity (one full-day session of 6 teaching hours and two half-day sessions of 3 teaching hours each)


This module will also begin with a full-day immersive experiential workshop where participants create and enact two very different identities and the coming together of these identities at work, experiencing in real time the dynamics of inclusion and exclusion, dominance and suppression that are often intertwined with the ‘coming together’ of two differing ideological systems. This is followed by a detailed facilitated debrief where participants reflect on their experiences of the above. In the workshop debrief, we will explore the dynamics of dominance and otherness, of unconscious bias, of trust in diverse settings, and how all these affect inclusion, equity, and collaboration in work settings. We will unfold the learning from the above experience over three half-day sessions using various theoretical lenses of looking at the dynamics of diversity at the workplace and apply this learning to actual business cases as well as to participants’ own work in team settings.


Conclusion: One half day session (3 teaching hours) bringing together the various themes of the course


Total: 30 teaching hours


The Course and the Nordic Nine:


The course specifically aims to give students an experiential insight into processes of unlearning and relearning as important leadership capabilities. The course also engages a number of empathy building technologies and as such aims to help students understand both the challenges and the possibilities of engaging human compassion in organisations. Throughout the course, students will also experientially engage with the ethical dilemmas related to diversity and authenticity - e.g., how does one remain true to one's values whilst at the same time adapting to the world, and how does one reconcile and collaborate across deep differences in identity.  

Description of the teaching methods
This is an immersive, experiential course and such is participant centred and requires a high degree of participant engagement, both in the two full-day experiential workshops and in the following debrief sessions. The course design is dialogue-based and throughout the course we will engage in deep dialogical processes. Students can learn best by diving in, immersing self in the experience, and actively engaging with the subject matter of the course.
Feedback during the teaching period
Students will be given prompts for the final assignment in advance and can present their paper ideas to the course instructor who will provide feedback on these ideas. Students can also schedule a meeting with the course instructor to discuss these prompts and their ideas on their final paper.
Student workload
Classroom Time 30 hours
Class Preparation Time 104 hours
Final Paper 72 hours
Expected literature

Indicative Literature:


  • Hammack, P. L. (2008). Narrative and the cultural psychology of identity. Personality And Social Psychology Review, 12(3), 222-247.
  • Turner, J.C. (2005). Explaining the Nature of Power: A Three-Process Theory. European Journal of Social Psychology. 35. 1-22.
  • Reit, E. S., & Halevy, N. (2020). Managing hierarchy’s functions and dysfunctions: A relational perspective on leadership and followership. Current Opinion in Psychology, 33, 126–130.
  • Brewer, M. B. (2010). Social identity complexity and acceptance of diversity. In Crisp, R. J. (ed.) The Psychology of social and cultural diversity. Chichester: Wiley- Blackwell Publishing, 9-33.
  • van Kleef, G. A., & Cheng, J. T. (2020). Power, status, and hierarchy: Current trends and future challenges. Current Opinion in Psychology, 33, v–xiv.
  • Frauendorfer, D., Mast, M. S., Sanchez, C. D., & Gatica, P. D. (2015). Emergent power hierarchies and group performance. International Journal of Psychology, 50(5), 392–396.
  • van Kleef, G. A., & Lange, J. (2020). How hierarchy shapes our emotional lives: Effects of power and status on emotional experience, expression, and responsiveness. Current Opinion in Psychology, 33, 148–153.
  • Furr, R. M., & Funder, D. C. (2021). Persons, situations, and person–situation interactions. In O. P. John & R. W. Robins (Eds.), Handbook of personality: Theory and research., 4th ed. (pp. 667–685). The Guilford Press.
  • Oshry, B. (2010). People in Context. In K. A. Bunker, D. T. Hall, & K. E. Kram (Eds.), Extraordinary leadership: Addressing the gaps of senior executive development. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass Publishers.
  • Sales, M. (2002). Future thinking by middle managers: a neglected necessity. Systems Research & Behavioral Science, 19(4), 367–375.
  • Schlesinger, L. A., & Oshry, B. (1984). Quality of Work Life and the Manager: Muddle in the Middle. Organizational Dynamics, 13(1), 5–19.
  • Aiello, A., Tesi, A., Pratto, F., & Pierro, A. (2018). Social dominance and interpersonal power: Asymmetrical relationships within hierarchy‐enhancing and hierarchy‐attenuating work environments. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 48(1), 35–45.
  • Yu, A., Hays, N. A., & Zhao, E. Y. (2019). Development of a bipartite measure of social hierarchy: The perceived power and perceived status scales. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 152, 84–104.
  • Gabriel, Y. (1998). An introduction to the social psychology of insults in organizations. Human Relations, 51(11), 1329–1354.
  • Korman, J. V., Van Quaquebeke, N., & Tröster, C. (2021). Managers are less burned-out at the top: The roles of sense of power and self-efficacy at different hierarchy levels. Journal of Business and Psychology. 
  • To, C., Leslie, L. M., Torelli, C. J., & Stoner, J. L. (2020). Culture and social hierarchy: Collectivism as a driver of the relationship between power and status. Organizational Behavior & Human Decision Processes, 157, 159–176.
  • Tear, M. J., Reader, T. W., Shorrock, S., & Kirwan, B. (2020). Safety culture and power: Interactions between perceptions of safety culture, organisational hierarchy, and national culture. Safety Science, 121, 550–561.
  • Tesi, A., Pratto, F., Pierro, A., & Aiello, A. (2020). Group dominance in hierarchy-attenuating and hierarchy-enhancing organizations: The role of social dominance orientation, need for cognitive closure, and power tactics in a person–environment (mis)fit perspective. Group Dynamics: Theory, Research, and Practice, 24(2), 102–114.
  • Inesi, M. E., Adams, G. S., & Gupta, A. (2021). When it pays to be kind: The allocation of indirect reciprocity within power hierarchies. Organizational Behavior & Human Decision Processes, 165, 115–126.
  • Ahonen, P., Tienari, J., Meriläinen, S., & Pullen, A. (2016). Hidden contexts and invisible power relations: A Foucauldian reading of diversity research. Brain: A Journal of Neurology, 139(3), 263–286.
  • Oshry, B. (2020). What Lies Beneath. Organization Development Journal, 38(3), 11–32.
  • Greer, L. L., Homan, A. C., De Hoogh, A. H. B., & Den Hartog, D. N. (2012). Tainted Visions: The Effect of Visionary Leader Behaviors and Leader Categorization Tendencies on the Financial Performance of Ethnically Diverse Teams. Journal of Applied Psychology, 97(1), 203–213.
  • Levine M, Prosser A, Evans D, Reicher S. (2005). Identity and Emergency Intervention: How Social Group Membership and Inclusiveness of Group Boundaries Shape Helping Behavior. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 31(4): 443-453.
  • Bendahan, S., Zehnder, C., Pralong, F. P., & Antonakis, J. (2015). Leader corruption depends on power and testosterone. The Leadership Quarterly, 26(2), 101–122.
  • Tao, L., & Au, W. (2014). Values, self and other-regarding behavior in the dictator game. Rationality and Society, 26(1), 46–72.
  • Hirsh, J. B., & Kang, S. K. (2016). Mechanisms of identity conflict: Uncertainty, anxiety, and the behavioral inhibition system. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 20(3), 223–244.
  • Poggi, I., & D’Errico, F. (2018). Feeling offended: A blow to our image and our social relationships. Frontiers in Psychology, 8. 
  • Holck, L. (2016). Spatially embedded inequality: Exploring structure, agency, and ethnic minority strategies to navigate organizational opportunity structures. Personnel Review, 45(4), 643–662.
  • McNatt, D. B. (2000). Ancient Pygmalion joins contemporary management: A meta-analysis of the result. Journal of Applied Psychology, 85(2), 314–322.
  • Hess, T. M., Auman, C., Colcombe, S. J., & Rahhal, T. A. (2003). The Impact of Stereotype Threat on Age Differences in Memory Performance. The Journals of Gerontology: Series B: Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences, 58(1), P3–P11.
  • Shih, M., & Pittinsky, T. L. (1999). Stereotype susceptibility: Identity salience and shifts in quantitative performance. Psychological Science (0956-7976), 10(1), 80.
  • Steele, C. M., & Aronson, J. (2000). Stereotype threat and the intellectual test performance of African Americans. In C. Stangor (Ed.), Stereotypes and prejudice: Essential readings. (pp. 369–389).
  • Stone, J., Lynch, C. I., Sjomeling, M., & Darley, J. M. (1999). Stereotype threat effects on Black and White athletic performance. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 77(6), 1213–1227.
  • Phillips, K. W. (2014). How Diversity Works. Scientific American, 311(4), 43–47.
  • Stahl, G. K., Maznevski, M. L., Voight, A., & Jonsen, K. (2010). Unraveling the Effects of Cultural Diversity in Teams: A Meta-analysis of Research on Multicultural Work Groups. Journal of International Business Studies, 41(4), 690–709.
  • Holck, L. (2016). Putting diversity to work. Equality, Diversity & Inclusion, 35(4), 296–307.
  • Collien, I., Sieben, B., & Müller, C. M. (2016). Age work in organizations: Maintaining and disrupting institutionalized understandings of higher age. British Journal of Management, 27(4), 778–795.
  • Adriaanse, J. (2016). Gender diversity in the governance of sport associations: The Sydney Scoreboard global index of participation. Journal of Business Ethics, 137(1), 149–160.
  • Ihme, T., Sonnenberg, K., Barbarino, M.-L., Fisseler, B., & Stürmer, S. (2016). How University Websites’ Emphasis on Age Diversity Influences Prospective Students’ Perception of Person-Organization Fit and Student Recruitment. Research in Higher Education, 57(8), 1010–1030.
  • Ren, Y., Chen, J., & Riedl, J. (2016). The Impact and Evolution of Group Diversity in Online Open Collaboration. Management Science, 62(6), 1668–1686.
  • Mitchell, R., Parker, V., & Giles, M. (2012). Open-mindedness in diverse team performance: investigating a three-way interaction. International Journal of Human Resource Management, 23(17), 3652–3672.
  • Perkins, S. E., Phillips, K. W., & Pearce, N. A. (2013). Ethnic Diversity, Gender, and National Leaders. Journal of International Affairs, 67(1), 85–104.
  • Romano, A., Sutter, M., Liu, J.H. et al (2021). National parochialism is ubiquitous across 42 nations around the world. Nature Communications 12, 4456. 
  • Knights, D., & Omanović, V. (2016). (Mis)managing diversity: exploring the dangers of diversity management orthodoxy. Equality, Diversity & Inclusion, 35(1), 5–16.
  • Villadsen, A. R., & Wulff, J. N. (2018). Is the Public Sector a Fairer Employer? Ethnic Employment Discrimination in the Public and Private Sectors. Academy of Management Discoveries, 4(4), 429–448.
  • Ariss, A. A., & Sidani, Y. M. (2016). Understanding religious diversity: implications from Lebanon and France. Cross Cultural & Strategic Management, 23(3), 467–480.
  • Bertrand, O., & Lumineau, F. (2016). Partners in Crime: The Effects of Diversity on the Longevity of Cartels. Academy of Management Journal, 59(3), 983–1008.
  • Kamalu, N. C. (2016). African Americans and Racial Profiling by U.S. Law Enforcement: An Analysis of Police Traffic Stops and Searches of Motorists in Nebraska, 2002 - 2007. African Journal of Criminology & Justice Studies, 9(1), 187–206.
  • Almeida, S. (2016). Exposing the Threads: A Critical Interrogation of the Policies, Practices and (Non-)Performativity of Diversity in the City of Toronto. Wagadu: A Journal of Transnational Women’s & Gender Studies, 16, 96–126.
  • Öğütle, V. S. (2021). Institution as mediation between social structure and agency: Toward a realist social ontology of institutions. Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour. 
  • Phillips, K. W., Dumas, T. L., & Rothbard, N. P. (2018). Diversity and Authenticity. Harvard Business Review, 96(2), 132–136.
  • Marfelt, M. M., & Muhr, S. L. (2016). Managing protean diversity. International Journal of Cross Cultural Management, 16(2), 231–251.
Last updated on 20-02-2024