Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 94, Issue 3, pp 427–440

A Meta-Ethical Perspective on Organizational Identity



Although much of the growing literature on organizational identity implicitly recognizes the normative nature of identity, the ethical implications of organizational identity work and talk have not yet been explored in depth. Working from a meta-ethical perspective, we claim that the dynamic, processual, and temporal activities recently associated with organizational identity always have an ethical dimension, whether “good” or “bad.” In order to describe the ethical dimensions of organizational identity, we introduce the balance theory of practical wisdom as a theoretical framework, and connect this theory to existing organizational identity concepts. We present an empirical case focused on an international paint company to illustrate the relevance of this theory for empirical organizational identity research. Our intention is to expand existing theory by bringing an aspect of organizational identity that has been tangentially acknowledged to the forefront, and by identifying it as a fruitful avenue for future theory development as well as empirical research.


organizational identity practical wisdom metaethics 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.HEC MontrealMontrealCanada
  2. 2.NYU Stern School of BusinessNew YorkU.S.A.
  3. 3.Copenhagen Business SchoolCopenhagenDenmark

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