, Volume 29, Issue 2, pp 281-300
Date: 28 Jun 2013

Personal and Social Facets of Job Identity: A Person-Centered Approach

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Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this study was to examine ego-identity (Erikson, Psychol Issues 1:1–171, 1959; Identity, youth and crisis, Norton, New York, 1968; Marcia, J Pers Soc Psychol 3:551–558, 1966) and social identity (Tajfel and Turner, In: Austin WG, Worchel S (Eds.) The social psychology of intergroup relations. Brooks/Cole, Monterey, pp 33–47 1979; Turner et al., Rediscovering the social group: A self-categorization theory. Blackwell, Oxford, 1987) theories within the organizational literature. We adopted a person-centered approach to analyze whether employees classified in various identity statuses and identification profiles exhibited differences in job outcomes (i.e., burnout, job satisfaction, and organizational citizenship behaviors). We also analyzed interconnections among identity statuses and identification profiles.

Design/methodology/approach

Participants were 515 employees (85.4 % women) between 24 and 64 years old. They completed self-reported questionnaires assessing personal identity, social identity, and job outcomes.

Findings

Cluster analysis indicated that participants could be classified into four identity statuses (i.e., achievement, early closure, moratorium, and searching moratorium) and into four identification profiles (i.e., orthogonal combinations of high vs. low organizational and group identification, respectively). Employees classified in the various identity statuses and identification profiles reported meaningful differences on job outcomes. Further, findings highlighted significant associations between identity statuses and identification profiles, giving rise to various identity configurations associated with job outcomes.

Implications

This study highlights the importance of integrating different facets of job identity. These findings have relevant implications in terms of suggesting which dimensions of identity should be promoted in order to reduce workers’ burnout, and enhance their satisfaction and organizational citizenship behaviors.

Originality/value

This study provides evidence for integrating ego-identity and social identity theories. In doing so, it bridges developmental psychology literature on personal identity with social and organizational psychology literature on social identity, setting the basis for a comprehensive line of research.