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Betwixt and between identities: Liminal experience in contemporary careers

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Liminality, defined as a state of being betwixt and between social roles and/or identities, is the hallmark of an increasingly precarious and fluctuating career landscape. The generative potential of the liminality construct, however, has been restricted by six key assumptions stemming from the highly institutionalized nature of the rites of passage originally studied. As originally construed, liminality (1) implied both an objective state and the subjective experience of feeling betwixt and between, and was (2) temporary, (3) obligatory, (4) guided by elders and/or supported by a community of fellow liminars, (5) rooted in culturally legitimate narratives, (6) and led to a progressive outcome, i.e., the next logical step in a role hierarchy. By recasting these assumptions as variables, we improve the construct’s clarity, precision, and applicability to contemporary liminal experiences that are increasingly under-institutionalized. We illustrate the utility of our updated conceptualization by arguing that under-institutionalized liminality is both more difficult to endure and more fertile for identity growth than the highly institutionalized experiences that gave rise to the original notion. Drawing from adult development theory, we further propose that for under-institutionalized experiences to foster identity growth, the identity processes involved need to be more akin to identity play than identity work. We discuss the theoretical implications of our ideas for research on liminality, identity, and careers.

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... Inspired by previous research on identity work among self-employed workers (Petriglieri, Ashford, and Wrzesniewski 2019) and contemporary career research (Ibarra and Obodaru 2016), this paper engages with the concept of identity play to conceptualize the role of space in it. By investigating how members and hosts of coworking spaces make sense of these shared work environments, we conceptualize the effects these uses might have on the professional identities of their users. ...
... The concept of identity play emphasizes the 'engagement in provisional but active trial of possible future selves' (Ibarra and Petriglieri 2010, 11). Previous work on identity play suggests that identity play occurs in under-institutionalized contexts (Ibarra and Obodaru 2016) and that it occurs in an environment that is 'conducive to exploring, discovering, and testing new behaviours' (Shepherd and Williams 2018). While this environment has been described as 'less about a physical place and has more to do with a mindset' (Shepherd and Williams 2018), recent work on identity play in virtual environments has suggested that identity play can be afforded by sociomaterial aspects (Stanko et al. 2020). ...
... Since coworking spaces are easy to join, we believe that people in transitional periods of their life might be tempted to join them to gain new input and experiment with their identity. During instances wherein individuals are more focused on playing than on purpose, they can make decisions beyond rationality drawing on emotions, intuition, and leaps of faith (Ibarra and Obodaru 2016), identity play's fourth feature. ...
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Based on thirty interviews conducted in ten coworking spaces in Amsterdam and Paris, we ask whether and how members of coworking spaces engage in identity play, and what mechanisms related to space seem to enable such identity play. We identify four types of spatial mechanisms members and hosts of coworking spaces claim to create or engage in, and show how these relate to experimentation with professional identity. In so doing, we highlight possible material and spatial aspects of identity play. This paper contributes to the literature on identity play by drawing attention to the physicality and constitutive nature of the holding spaces necessary for identity play, and to research on coworking spaces by drawing attention to their possible identity effects.
... The conceptualization of liminality has led to a variety of uses in multiple empirical scales (Rantatalo and Lindberg 2018) and disciplines (Ibarra and Obodaru 2016) ranging from anthropology, sociology, political science and psychology, to management studies and education. As regards organization studies (Beech 2011) it has been proposed as a way of understanding structural positions (Garsten 1999, Tempest andStarkey 2004), occupations and work processes (Czarniawska andMazza 2003, Zadoroznyj 2009), sites, events and spaces (Sturdy et al. 2006). ...
... As regards organization studies (Beech 2011) it has been proposed as a way of understanding structural positions (Garsten 1999, Tempest andStarkey 2004), occupations and work processes (Czarniawska andMazza 2003, Zadoroznyj 2009), sites, events and spaces (Sturdy et al. 2006). The extensive usage of liminality both as a noun describing a threshold position or moment and as an adjective (liminal subject, or liminar) describing the identity (or identities) of the actors who occupy such positions is not unusual, nor always unproblematic (Thomassen 2009, Johnsen and Sørensen 2015, Ibarra and Obodaru 2016. Nevertheless, there seems to be a consensus in organization studies that the net effect of this broad use of the concept is positive (Söderlund and Borg 2018). ...
... Though their viewpoint on identity draws on a discipline that overemphasizes the individual's volition to try out different versions of the self we find their approach on liminality particularly constructive inasmuch as it examines both the 'who', the 'where' and the 'what' of liminal practices. Ibarra and Obodaru (2016) have convincingly argued that it is the under-institutionalized liminal experiences (such as unemployment) that are subjectively more challenging (the objective and the subjective liminal moments are mutually co-constituted) and more open to the possibility of an identity growth (interplay of exploration and commitment that leads to identity synthesis if successful). ...
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This article addresses the issue of liminality in the making, as manifested by traineeships in the Greek tourism sector. Drawing from ethnographic data collected between 2016 and 2017, we examine the experiences of young trainees in tourism-related enterprises in a national context of mild economic recovery. Our primary focus is on the impact of the selected training scheme as regards both the trainees’ self-image and their perceptions of work, occupation and careers in the tourism sector, the so-called heavy industry of the Greek economy. Our findings suggest that instead of concluding with a meaningful and inspiring career path, the actors learn to live in an inbetween and transient state for long periods of time as they prepare themselves for navigating a deregulated labour market. Through the lens of liminality, we aim at a more complex understanding of the unsettling and disruptive condition that pertains to the threshold position of our informants, of the transient spatio-temporal characteristics of Continuing Education itself, but also aspects of the transformations and transitions that shook up Greek society and economy during the last decade.
... The variety of experiences of permanent liminality (Thomasson, 2009) and the corresponding complex and dynamic processes of liminal identity negotiation (Beech, 2011) suggest that responding to conditions of permanent liminality does not merely result in this or that identity (Ibarra and Obodaru, 2016;Ybema et al., 2011). Instead, liminal identity work develops along several trajectories (Bamber et al., 2017;Ybema et al., 2011) as individuals struggle to align, balance, incorporate, reject or otherwise relate to various social identities, each of which having different and sometimes conflicting value and emotional significance (Ashforth et al., 2008;Ashforth and Schinoff, 2006). ...
... Instead, liminal identity work develops along several trajectories (Bamber et al., 2017;Ybema et al., 2011) as individuals struggle to align, balance, incorporate, reject or otherwise relate to various social identities, each of which having different and sometimes conflicting value and emotional significance (Ashforth et al., 2008;Ashforth and Schinoff, 2006). Feeling compelled to work on their identity (Thomasson, 2014) and/or exploring the possibilities to craft an identity (Ibarra and Obodaru, 2016), individuals perpetually oscillate between different sources for identification as the experience of liminality turns into a permanent one (Ybema et al., 2011). Either way, identity negotiation is informed by continuous efforts to construe and re-construe meaningful notions of the self as identities remain fluid and incomplete (Daskalaki and Simosi, 2018). ...
... Liminality may provide time-spaces that foster reflexivity, creativity, and possibility (Ibarra and Obudaru, 2016;Sturdy et al., 2006). People experiment with provisional selves and try to determine whether those identities work for their future lives (Ibarra, 2007;Ibarra and Obodaru, 2016). ...
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Purpose This paper aims to investigate the experiences of permanent liminality of academics and the associated multidimensional processes of identity negotiation. Design/methodology/approach The article draws upon a three-and-a-half-year at-home ethnography. The first author – as insider, participant and researcher – investigated the consequences of an organizational redesign that pushed members of a local university department into a situation of permanent liminality. Findings The paper describes how academics simultaneously followed multiple trajectories in their identity negotiation as a response to ongoing experiences of ambiguity, disorientation, powerlessness and loss of status. Practical implications Management decisions in higher education institutions based on administrative concerns can have adverse effects for academics, particularly when such decisions disturb, complicate or even render impossible identification processes. University managers need to realize and to respond to the struggle of academics getting lost in an endless quest for defining who they are. Originality/value The paper highlights the dual character of identity negotiation in conditions of permanent liminality as unresolved identity work through simultaneous identification and dis-identification. It further shows the multidimensionality of this identity work and argues that identity negotiation as a response to perpetual liminality is informed by notions of struggle and notions of opportunity.
... Increased precarity and mobility among ECRs mean that a growing number "seem to inhabit 'in between' spaces" (Ibarra and Obodaru, 2016: 48), such as Postdocs and immigrant academics (Fernando et al., 2020). This results in new forms of under-institutionalized liminal experiences (Ibarra and Obodaru, 2016) for ECRs, which compared to traditional academic career trajectories, lack the highly ritualized path and institutional guidance and support due to their unique experiences. In such conditions, it is argued that supporting communities can be self-constructed (Ibarra and Obodaru, 2016) to act as a personal holding environment (Petriglieri et al., 2019). ...
... This results in new forms of under-institutionalized liminal experiences (Ibarra and Obodaru, 2016) for ECRs, which compared to traditional academic career trajectories, lack the highly ritualized path and institutional guidance and support due to their unique experiences. In such conditions, it is argued that supporting communities can be self-constructed (Ibarra and Obodaru, 2016) to act as a personal holding environment (Petriglieri et al., 2019). ...
... In our study, the shelter network was initiated through mutual attachment based on common experiences of discriminatory challenges forming a network of the "othered." The network provided a space for the intersubjective temporal reconstruction of past discriminatory experiences and collective strategizing for future responses through a process of identity play (Ibarra and Obodaru, 2016;Ibarra and Petriglieri, 2010). This enhances our understanding of the temporality of identity work (Brown, 2015) and the possibility of collective action in enabling identity work in other spheres of academic life (Hökkä et al., 2017). ...
Article
Based on an autoethnographic study of early career researchers’ field research experiences, we show how individuals deal with moments of discrimination that present identity threats. This is accomplished through participating in the construction of a shared holding environment to provide emotional shelter and resources for resultant identity work. We show how they collectively develop anticipatory responses to future identity threats and inadvertently how this allows the effects of discrimination to be both unchallenged and amplified. We draw implications for identity work theory, adding to current understandings of identity threats, tensions, and challenges and the dynamics through which these are addressed, avoided, or worked around, as well as the shadow side of such activities. We also offer practical implications about the business schools’ role in nurturing early career researchers’ identity work.
... Our integrative framework is grounded on the anthropological notion of liminality, which is defined as "the experience of being betwixt and between social roles and/or identities" (Ibarra and Obodaru, 2016, p. 53). Liminality has gained popularity in management and organizational sciences when examining the process of a work role change and ensuing role identity transitions (Beech, 2011;Conroy and O'Leary-Kelly, 2014;Hennekam and Bennett, 2016;Ibarra and Obodaru, 2016;Soderlund and Borg, 2017;Gordon et al., 2020). The increased use of this concept coincides with changing career development landscapes, that have increasingly become unstable and uncertain, giving rise to the frequent occurrence of liminal experiences encountered among contemporary workers (Ibarra and Obodaru, 2016). ...
... Liminality has gained popularity in management and organizational sciences when examining the process of a work role change and ensuing role identity transitions (Beech, 2011;Conroy and O'Leary-Kelly, 2014;Hennekam and Bennett, 2016;Ibarra and Obodaru, 2016;Soderlund and Borg, 2017;Gordon et al., 2020). The increased use of this concept coincides with changing career development landscapes, that have increasingly become unstable and uncertain, giving rise to the frequent occurrence of liminal experiences encountered among contemporary workers (Ibarra and Obodaru, 2016). As it relates to the identity transition of an athlete to life after elite sport, we advance this liminality concept as an excellent lens to analyze the experience of being in between an elite-level athlete identity and the forthcoming post-sport identity. ...
... To this end, there is a dearth of theoretical integrations of pioneering work of Erikson (1959) around identity development and the Neo-Eriksonian scholarship with the literature on liminality and transition out of sport. Although Ibarra and Obodaru (2016) briefly noted the application of this identity development theory to describe the notion of identity growth during liminality, and Kerr and Dacyshyn (2000) discussed the implications of findings related to athletes' transition out of sport using work of Erikson (1963), there is a need to offer integrated perspectives of the nuance that plausibly exists in the identity reformation process during the transition to life after elite sport. ...
Article
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Athletes’ identity development upon retirement from elite sport was examined through a model of self-reformation that integrates and builds on the theoretical underpinnings of identity development and liminality, while advancing seven propositions and supporting conceptual conjectures using findings from research on athletes’ transition out of sport. As some elite athletes lose a salient athletic identity upon retiring from sport, they experience an identity crisis and enter the transition rites feeling in between their former athletic identity and future identity post-sport life, during which a temporary identity moratorium status is needed for identity growth. Given the developmental challenges encountered in moratorium and psychosocial processes necessary to establish a new, fulfilling identity for life after elite sport, we identified key conditions, triggers, and processes that advance how a journey of identity growth paradox experienced during liminality serves as a catalyst toward identity achievement. Elite athletes must be encouraged to persevere in this challenging identity search and delay commitments for as long as it is necessary to achieve identity growth despite experiencing uncomfortable feelings of confusion, void, and ambiguity during the liminal phase. Reforming into an achieved identity for life after elite sport would corroborate the successful navigation of transition, as elite athletes evolved into a synthesized sense of self by cementing, through a negotiated adaptation pathway, constructed identity commitments that will provide new beginnings and meaningful directions to their life after elite sport.
... The notion of liminality has been extensively theorised to make sense of change, mobility, transition, transit, in-between-ness and any state of hybridity or transformation (Borg & S€ oderlund, 2013;Ibarra & Obodaru, 2016;Turner, 1974Turner, , 1987Underthun & Jordhus-Lier, 2017;Van Gennep, 1960). Turner (1969Turner ( , 1974Turner ( , 1987 and Van Gennep (1960) focused on the in-between spaces and transitional moments when apparent distraction and ambiguity are experienced during rites of passage and transformations. ...
... This notion can be applied to normative pregnancy when crafting non-normative pregnancy identities through the participation in adventure tourism. In consistency with the concept of liminality (Ibarra & Obodaru, 2016;Turner, 1969Turner, , 1974Turner, , 1987Van Gennep, 1960), the 'rhizomatic body' embodies the construction of meaning through experiences of transitional moments characterised by ambiguity and transformation, emerging as a catalyst for alternative, non-normative pregnancy. ...
... Despite their initial condition, women in general struggled with the reconstruction of themselves while doing adventure tourism during their pregnancy. As stated previously, normative and non-normative pregnancy refers to specific cultural constructions (Jordan, [1978(Jordan, [ ] 1993, thus the construction of women's own cultural scripts demands a certain amount of creativity (Ibarra & Obodaru, 2016) as Daniela recalled in her account: You know [adopting risk] is contrary to the idea of being a woman. This doesn't apply to men … it is understood that if men undertake risk this is normal … but if it is a woman [who undertakes risky activities] then it's madness, even if you do not want to have children. ...
... C'est ainsi que Goulart Sztejnberg et Giovanardi (2017) (Boland & Griffin, 2015 ;Esbenshade, Shifrin & Rider, 2019 ;Garsten, 1999). La position des salariés en transition professionnelle est décrite comme ambivalente, conjuguant opportunités et liberté, mais aussi angoisse, incertitude, remises en question, perte d'identité, déconstruction, perte de contrôle, stress (Beech, 2011 ;Conroy & O'Leary-Kelly, 2014 ;Gray & Saunders, 2017 ;Ibarra & Obodaru, 2016 ;Pontefract, 2014 ;Tansley & Tietze, 2013). Il en va de même des cadres internationaux qui ne sont ni ici, ni là (Guimaraes-Costa & Cunha, 2009) ; des bénévoles au sein d'une association demeurant en recherche de sens (Toraldo, Islam & Mangia, 2019) ; des consultant.e.s cherchant un équilibre entre vie professionnelle et vie privée (Johnsen & Sørensen, 2015) ; des salarié.e.s subissant des injonctions contradictoires entre respect des règles (légalité) et adaptation aux circonstances (illégalité) (Cunha & Cabral-Cardoso, 2006). ...
... Dans la plupart des cas, les individus liminaires ne peuvent échapper que par leurs propres moyens à leur liminalité (Cunha & Cabral-Cardoso, 2006 ;Cunha, Guimarães-Costa, Rego & Clegg, 2010 ;Esbenshade et al., 2019 ;Garsten, 1999 ;Ibarra & Obodaru, 2016 ;Johnsen & Sørensen, 2015). Certains travaux mettent en évidence la nécessité d'un maintien des interactions entre individu et structure (Beech, 2011 ;Conroy & O'Leary-Kelly, 2014 ;Daly, Armstrong & Lowndes, 2015 ;Frick, Fremont, Åge & Osarenkhoe, 2020 ;Guimaraes-Costa & Cunha, 2009 ;Wagner, Newell, & Kay, 2012 ;) sans toujours expliquer la nature de ces interactions. ...
... Certaines recherches montrent qu'un équilibre harmonieux doit être trouvé entre liminalité et intégration (Frick et al., 2020), mais pour d'autres, la fin de cette phase suppose une véritable négociation, de faire face à des résistances, d'affronter un conflit, d'opérer une pacification (Esbenshade et al., 2019 ;Wagner et al., 2012). Quelques travaux évoquent l'utilité du recours à des symboles ou à des rituels (Howard-Grenville et al., 2011 ;Ibarra & Obodaru, 2016 ;Johnson, Prashantham, Floyd & Bourque, 2010 ;Tansley & Tietze, 2013) mais fournissent peu d'explications sur la façon dont ces pratiques peuvent permettre l'intégration. ...
Article
Full-text available
In anthropology, a rite of passage is a process voluntarily initiated to allow an individual or a group move through a difficult stage of transformation. The liminal period is the intermediate stage of this process (Van Gennep, 1909). The idea of liminality has been widely used in the social sciences and in management. However, although it initially had a strong operational dimension for carrying out a transformation, it has become a simple concept describing the situation of individuals who are disoriented and sidelined. Nonetheless, organizational management needs operational tools to facilitate the integration of individuals during transition phases. This article seeks to understand how rituals can facilitate the integration process of liminal individuals. We study a case of ritual of passage within a highly ritualized non-religious organization: a Masonic lodge. We identify several mechanisms, activated through the ritual, that help to integrate liminal individuals. We analyze them through the ventriloquial perspective of communication, borrowed from the theory called Communicative Constitution of Organization (CCO). The results show that the ritual favors (1) the integration of individuals by reducing the ambiguity of the liminal situation, (2) the affirmation of a temporality, (3) the alignment of individual and collective objectives, (4) the recognition of otherness, (5) the lesser hierarchization of individuals, (6) the reduction of hyper-subjectivity, (7) the use of declarative statements, and (8) the rise in authority. We discuss the discrepancies between these results and works on liminality in management and the possible transposition of these mechanisms to various organizations.
... C'est ainsi que Goulart Sztejnberg et Giovanardi (2017) (Boland & Griffin, 2015 ;Esbenshade, Shifrin & Rider, 2019 ;Garsten, 1999). La position des salariés en transition professionnelle est décrite comme ambivalente, conjuguant opportunités et liberté, mais aussi angoisse, incertitude, remises en question, perte d'identité, déconstruction, perte de contrôle, stress (Beech, 2011 ;Conroy & O'Leary-Kelly, 2014 ;Gray & Saunders, 2017 ;Ibarra & Obodaru, 2016 ;Pontefract, 2014 ;Tansley & Tietze, 2013). Il en va de même des cadres internationaux qui ne sont ni ici, ni là (Guimaraes-Costa & Cunha, 2009) ; des bénévoles au sein d'une association demeurant en recherche de sens (Toraldo, Islam & Mangia, 2019) ; des consultant.e.s cherchant un équilibre entre vie professionnelle et vie privée (Johnsen & Sørensen, 2015) ; des salarié.e.s subissant des injonctions contradictoires entre respect des règles (légalité) et adaptation aux circonstances (illégalité) (Cunha & Cabral-Cardoso, 2006). ...
... Dans la plupart des cas, les individus liminaires ne peuvent échapper que par leurs propres moyens à leur liminalité (Cunha & Cabral-Cardoso, 2006 ;Cunha, Guimarães-Costa, Rego & Clegg, 2010 ;Esbenshade et al., 2019 ;Garsten, 1999 ;Ibarra & Obodaru, 2016 ;Johnsen & Sørensen, 2015). Certains travaux mettent en évidence la nécessité d'un maintien des interactions entre individu et structure (Beech, 2011 ;Conroy & O'Leary-Kelly, 2014 ;Daly, Armstrong & Lowndes, 2015 ;Frick, Fremont, Åge & Osarenkhoe, 2020 ;Guimaraes-Costa & Cunha, 2009 ;Wagner, Newell, & Kay, 2012 ;) sans toujours expliquer la nature de ces interactions. ...
... Certaines recherches montrent qu'un équilibre harmonieux doit être trouvé entre liminalité et intégration (Frick et al., 2020), mais pour d'autres, la fin de cette phase suppose une véritable négociation, de faire face à des résistances, d'affronter un conflit, d'opérer une pacification (Esbenshade et al., 2019 ;Wagner et al., 2012). Quelques travaux évoquent l'utilité du recours à des symboles ou à des rituels (Howard-Grenville et al., 2011 ;Ibarra & Obodaru, 2016 ;Johnson, Prashantham, Floyd & Bourque, 2010 ;Tansley & Tietze, 2013) mais fournissent peu d'explications sur la façon dont ces pratiques peuvent permettre l'intégration. ...
Article
En anthropologie, un rituel de passage est un processus enclenché volontairement pour permettre à un individu ou un groupe de franchir une étape de transformation difficile. La période liminaire est l'étape intermédiaire de ce processus (Van Gennep, 1909). L'idée de liminalité a été largement mobilisée en sciences sociales et en management. Mais, alors qu'initialement elle présentait une dimension opérationnelle forte pour mener à bien une transformation, elle est devenue un simple concept décrivant la situation d'individus désorientés et mis à l'écart. Le management des organisations a pourtant besoin d'outils opérationnels pour faciliter l'intégration d'individus lors de phases de transition. Cet article cherche à comprendre comment les rituels peuvent favoriser le processus d'intégration des individus liminaires. Pour ce faire, nous avons réalisé l'étude d'un cas de rituel de passage, au sein d'une organisation non religieuse très ritualisée : une loge maçonnique. Nous avons identifié plusieurs mécanismes, actionnés au travers du rituel, et agissant sur l'intégration des individus liminaires. Nous les avons analysés grâce à la mobilisation d'une perspective ventriloque de la communication, empruntée à la théorie dite Communicative Constitution of Organization (CCO). Les résultats montrent que le rituel favorise l'intégration des individus par la réduction de l'ambiguïté de la situation liminaire, l'affirmation d'une temporalité, l'alignement des objectifs individuels et collectifs, la reconnaissance de l'altérité, la moindre hiérarchisation des individus, la réduction de l'hypersubjectivité, le recours à des déclaratifs et des montées en autorité. Nous discutons les écarts entre ces résultats et certains travaux sur la liminalité en management ainsi que la possible transposition de ces mécanismes à des organisations diverses.
... The position of employees in career transition is described as ambivalent, combining opportunity and freedom, but also anxiety, uncertainty, questioning, loss of identity, deconstruction, loss of control, and stress (Beech, 2011;Conroy & O'Leary-Kelly, 2014;Gray & Saunders, 2017;Ibarra & Obodaru, 2016;Pontefract, 2014;Tansley & Tietze, 2013). The same emotions are attributed to international executives who are neither here nor there (Guimaraes-Costa & Cunha, 2009), volunteers within an association remaining in search of meaning (Toraldo et al., 2019), consultants seeking a balance between professional and private life (Johnsen & Sørensen, 2015), and employees undergoing contradictory injunctions between respecting the rules (legality) and adapting to circumstances (illegality) (Cunha & Cabral-Cardoso, 2006). ...
... In most cases, liminal individuals can escape their liminality only by their own efforts (Cunha & Cabral-Cardoso, 2006;Cunha et al., 2010;Esbenshade et al., 2019;Garsten, 1999;Ibarra & Obodaru, 2016;Johnsen & Sørensen, 2015). Some work highlights the need for continued interactions between individuals and structures (Beech, 2011;Conroy & O'Leary-Kelly, 2014;Daly et al., 2015;Frick et al., 2020;Guimaraes-Costa & Cunha, 2009;Wagner et al., 2012) without always explaining the nature of these interactions. ...
... Some research shows that a harmonious balance must be found between liminality and integration (Frick et al., 2020), but for others, the end of this phase involves real negotiation, facing resistance, confronting conflict, and, with hope, resulting in pacification (Esbenshade et al., 2019;Wagner et al., 2012). A few works mention the usefulness of symbols or rituals (Howard-Grenville et al., 2011;Ibarra & Obodaru, 2016;Johnson et al., 2010;Tansley & Tietze, 2013), but they provide little explanation of how these items or practices can enable integration. ...
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In anthropology, a rite of passage is a process voluntarily initiated to allow an individual or a group move through a difficult stage of transformation. The liminal period is the intermediate stage of this process (Van Gennep, 1909). The idea of liminality has been widely used in the social sciences and in management. However, although it initially had a strong operational dimension for carrying out a transformation, it has become a simple concept describing the situation of individuals who are disoriented and sidelined. Nonetheless, organizational management needs operational tools to facilitate the integration of individuals during transition phases. This article seeks to understand how rituals can facilitate the integration process of liminal individuals. We study a case of ritual of passage within a highly ritualized non-religious organization: a Masonic lodge. We identify several mechanisms, activated through the ritual, that help to integrate liminal individuals. We analyze them through the ventriloquial perspective of communication, borrowed from the theory called Communicative Constitution of Organization (CCO). The results show that the ritual favors (1) the integration of individuals by reducing the ambiguity of the liminal situation, (2) the affirmation of a temporality, (3) the alignment of individual and collective objectives, (4) the recognition of otherness, (5) the lesser hierarchization of individuals, (6) the reduction of hyper-subjectivity, (7) the use of declarative statements, and (8) the rise in authority. We discuss the discrepancies between these results and works on liminality in management and the possible transposition of these mechanisms to various organizations.
... C'est ainsi que Goulart Sztejnberg et Giovanardi (2017) (Boland & Griffin, 2015 ;Esbenshade, Shifrin & Rider, 2019 ;Garsten, 1999). La position des salariés en transition professionnelle est décrite comme ambivalente, conjuguant opportunités et liberté, mais aussi angoisse, incertitude, remises en question, perte d'identité, déconstruction, perte de contrôle, stress (Beech, 2011 ;Conroy & O'Leary-Kelly, 2014 ;Gray & Saunders, 2017 ;Ibarra & Obodaru, 2016 ;Pontefract, 2014 ;Tansley & Tietze, 2013). Il en va de même des cadres internationaux qui ne sont ni ici, ni là (Guimaraes-Costa & Cunha, 2009) ; des bénévoles au sein d'une association demeurant en recherche de sens (Toraldo, Islam & Mangia, 2019) ; des consultant.e.s cherchant un équilibre entre vie professionnelle et vie privée (Johnsen & Sørensen, 2015) ; des salarié.e.s subissant des injonctions contradictoires entre respect des règles (légalité) et adaptation aux circonstances (illégalité) (Cunha & Cabral-Cardoso, 2006). ...
... Dans la plupart des cas, les individus liminaires ne peuvent échapper que par leurs propres moyens à leur liminalité (Cunha & Cabral-Cardoso, 2006 ;Cunha, Guimarães-Costa, Rego & Clegg, 2010 ;Esbenshade et al., 2019 ;Garsten, 1999 ;Ibarra & Obodaru, 2016 ;Johnsen & Sørensen, 2015). Certains travaux mettent en évidence la nécessité d'un maintien des interactions entre individu et structure (Beech, 2011 ;Conroy & O'Leary-Kelly, 2014 ;Daly, Armstrong & Lowndes, 2015 ;Frick, Fremont, Åge & Osarenkhoe, 2020 ;Guimaraes-Costa & Cunha, 2009 ;Wagner, Newell, & Kay, 2012 ;) sans toujours expliquer la nature de ces interactions. ...
... Certaines recherches montrent qu'un équilibre harmonieux doit être trouvé entre liminalité et intégration (Frick et al., 2020), mais pour d'autres, la fin de cette phase suppose une véritable négociation, de faire face à des résistances, d'affronter un conflit, d'opérer une pacification (Esbenshade et al., 2019 ;Wagner et al., 2012). Quelques travaux évoquent l'utilité du recours à des symboles ou à des rituels (Howard-Grenville et al., 2011 ;Ibarra & Obodaru, 2016 ;Johnson, Prashantham, Floyd & Bourque, 2010 ;Tansley & Tietze, 2013) mais fournissent peu d'explications sur la façon dont ces pratiques peuvent permettre l'intégration. ...
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En anthropologie, un rituel de passage est un processus enclenché volontairement pour permettre à un individu ou un groupe de franchir une étape de transformation difficile. La période liminaire est l'étape intermédiaire de ce processus (Van Gennep, 1909). L'idée de liminalité a été largement mobilisée en sciences sociales et en management. Mais, alors qu'initialement elle présentait une dimension opérationnelle forte pour mener à bien une transformation, elle est devenue un simple concept décrivant la situation d'individus désorientés et mis à l'écart. Le management des organisations a pourtant besoin d'outils opérationnels pour faciliter l'intégration d'individus lors de phases de transition. Cet article cherche à comprendre comment les rituels peuvent favoriser le processus d'intégration des individus liminaires. Pour ce faire, nous avons réalisé l'étude d'un cas de rituel de passage, au sein d'une organisation non religieuse très ritualisée : une loge maçonnique. Nous avons identifié plusieurs mécanismes, actionnés au travers du rituel, et agissant sur l'intégration des individus liminaires. Nous les avons analysés grâce à la mobilisation d'une perspective ventriloque de la communication, empruntée à la théorie dite Communicative Constitution of Organization (CCO). Les résultats montrent que le rituel favorise l'intégration des individus par la réduction de l'ambiguïté de la situation liminaire, l'affirmation d'une temporalité, l'alignement des objectifs individuels et collectifs, la reconnaissance de l'altérité, la moindre hiérarchisation des individus, la réduction de l'hypersubjectivité, le recours à des déclaratifs et des montées en autorité. Nous discutons les écarts entre ces résultats et certains travaux sur la liminalité en management ainsi que la possible transposition de ces mécanismes à des organisations diverses.
... Söderlund and Borg (2018) posit that van Gennep's original rite-of-passage, what we term a liminal process, was comprised of three phases including (1) a separation or detachment from one's existing environment and routines, (2) a liminal phase whereby individuals experience an uncertain yet temporary transition as a result of natural and evolutionary cues, and (3) a final reaggregation or reincorporation phase that signifies a new, stable status in society, resulting in a new, progressive identity. Though individuals experience uncertainty and anxiety, conceptualization of the original liminal transition included a culturally legitimate narrative to govern the process, guidance by elders, and a supportive cohort of fellow liminars, though these supportive elements are often missing from identityrelated experiences, especially within contemporary organizations (Ibarra & Obodaru, 2016). Turner (1967Turner ( , 1977 develops further the liminality concept to describe individuals in transition who have no defined or recognized social position and are thus suspended between two identities (Ibarra & Obodaru, 2016), what Turner (1967, p. 96) terms "betwixt and between." ...
... Though individuals experience uncertainty and anxiety, conceptualization of the original liminal transition included a culturally legitimate narrative to govern the process, guidance by elders, and a supportive cohort of fellow liminars, though these supportive elements are often missing from identityrelated experiences, especially within contemporary organizations (Ibarra & Obodaru, 2016). Turner (1967Turner ( , 1977 develops further the liminality concept to describe individuals in transition who have no defined or recognized social position and are thus suspended between two identities (Ibarra & Obodaru, 2016), what Turner (1967, p. 96) terms "betwixt and between." Management scholars have since appropriated the term to investigate identity-related phenomena within modern organizations. ...
... Management scholars have since appropriated the term to investigate identity-related phenomena within modern organizations. Scholars have over time improved the utility of liminality as a theoretical construct, though more detailed accounts are needed to explain how liminality occurs within different contexts (Ibarra & Obodaru, 2016;Söderlund & Borg, 2018). Understanding liminal processes is especially important given that identity development is a ubiquitous human experience, has implications for emotional and physical health and well-being (Petriglieri, 2011;Thoits, 1983), and can guide individual and managerial interventions (Ibarra & Obodaru, 2016). ...
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While academic entrepreneurship depends on the entrepreneurial behavior of university scientists, management studies show that identity development precedes behavioral enactment. This paper extends our understanding of why and how individuals who define themselves as a scientist develop or fail to develop a new commercialization-focused entrepreneurial identity. We develop an explanatory process model by drawing from the concept of liminality, a transitional state during which individuals construct or reconstruct an identity, as well as the entrepreneurship literature. The model not only provides a stylized illustration of identity development and its associated behavioral outcomes, but it also includes several factors such as agency and passion, liminal competence, social support, organizational and institutional support, and temporal factors that moderate the process. We contribute to the literature on entrepreneurial identity by providing a dynamic conceptualization of identity construction and incorporation, among other outcomes, as well as to the academic entrepreneurship literature by elucidating the origin and development of entrepreneurial identities among scientists. A conceptual focus on identity-related micro-processes may help explain why some scientists are more successful at commercializing technologies derived from their research than others. Implications for theory and future research are discussed.
... In organizational theory, the concept of liminality is discussed along three dimensions: process, position and space. The process view of liminality refers to career paths and transitions in professional identities (Ibarra, 2005;Ibarra & Obodaru, 2016) as well as to organizational change and collective identity building (Corley & Gioia, 2004;Clark et al., 2010;Howard-Grenville et al., 2011). The concept of liminality as a position relates to people who are temporarily part of an organization, such as project staff or freelancers (Garsten, 1999;Sturdy et al., 2006;Borg, 2014;Borg & Söderlund, 2015;Söderlund & Borg, 2018). ...
... Maintaining and communicating an artistic identity that is strongly supported by a high degree of work autonomy regarding topics, working hours, pace and intensity of the artistic process is a solid base of their professional status (Bain, 2005). Therefore, the artists at Bosch must have performed identity work in the sense of maintaining authenticity and integrity (Borg, 2014;Ibarra & Obodaru, 2016;Ibarra & Obodaru, 2020). ...
... Hence, this paper contributes by extending conversations about liminality (e.g. Bamber, et al., 2017;Beech, 2011, Clegg, et al., 2014Daskalaki, et al., 2015;Hay and Samra-Fredricks, 2016;Ibarra and Obodaru, 2016;Pöyhönen, 2018;Sturdy, et al., 2006), in relation to leadership learning (Hawkins and Edwards, 2015), and learning more generally (Izak, 2015), from the perspective of the facilitator and educator of learning rather than the recipient. In doing so, we also add further to the existing research on the facilitator role in leadership education (e.g. ...
... Scholars of organization studies have found much of value in this concept (e.g. Bamber et al., 2017;Beech, 2011, Clegg, et al., 2014Daskalaki et al., 2015;Hay and Samra-Fredricks, 2016;Ibarra and Obodaru, 2016;Sturdy et al., 2006), identifying in liminality a way to conceptualize the fragility and precariousness of many experiences in organizations. ...
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This paper uses the archetype of a ‘trickster’ to reflect back on, and hence problematize, the role of the educator/facilitator identity in leadership learning. This is based on the view that a trickster is a permanent resident in liminal spaces and that these liminal spaces play an important role in leadership learning. Our approach was based on the reading of the trickster literature alongside reflective conversations on our own experiences of facilitation of leadership learning, development and education. We suggest that paying attention to the trickster tale draws attention to the romanticisation of leadership development and its facilitation as based on a response to crisis that leads to a further enhancement of the leader as hero. Hence, it also offers ways to problematize leadership learning by uncovering the shadow-side of facilitation and underlying power relations. We therefore contribute by showing how, as facilitators, we can use the trickster archetype to think more critically, reflectively and reflexively about our role and practices as educators, in particular, the ethical and power-related issues. In our conclusions we make recommendations for research, theory and practice and invite other facilitators to share with us their trickster tales.
... As a result of experiencing a particularized unanswered calling, people in this middle stage of a career pivot are not only stimulated to psychological disengage from the behaviorally-anchored occupation, but they are also compelled to psychologically engage with another occupation (i.e., the particular occupation that is expected to align with their calling). This middle stage is therefore characterized by a state of "liminality" (e.g., Howard-Grenville, Golden-Biddle, Irwin, & Mao, 2011;Ibarra & Obadaru, 2016), in which people are "truly in between identities, with one foot still firmly planted in the 'old world' and the other making tentative steps toward a 'new world'" (Ibarra & Obadaru, 2020, pp. 474-475 Other participants in the middle stage of a career pivot made similar comments, alluding to the uncomfortable state of being "betwixt and between" identities (Ibarra & Obadaru, 2016). ...
... This middle stage is therefore characterized by a state of "liminality" (e.g., Howard-Grenville, Golden-Biddle, Irwin, & Mao, 2011;Ibarra & Obadaru, 2016), in which people are "truly in between identities, with one foot still firmly planted in the 'old world' and the other making tentative steps toward a 'new world'" (Ibarra & Obadaru, 2020, pp. 474-475 Other participants in the middle stage of a career pivot made similar comments, alluding to the uncomfortable state of being "betwixt and between" identities (Ibarra & Obadaru, 2016). For example, insurance underwriter Zoe, who felt called to be a professional coffee roaster but was not yet doing so, explained of her situation, "I am in flux right now." ...
Thesis
Management scholarship is rife with accounts of people pivoting from steady jobs and “good” careers into occupations that align with their callings. In my dissertation, I investigate callings, and the career pivots that people make to pursue them, through a two-study, mixed-methods investigation. In the first study, a quantitative meta-analysis, my co-authors and I clarify the beneficial and detrimental outcomes associated with viewing work as a calling across 201 studies in the literature. We find that callings, on the whole, are highly beneficial, and suggest that a “calling mindset”—the extent to which people believe work should be a calling—can further strengthen these benefits. Given the highly positive view of callings that emerged within the meta-analysis, my second dissertation study, a solo-authored qualitative study, explores how people can leave unfulfilling occupations to pursue their callings—in a role transition that I refer to as a “career pivot.” Drawing on 201 interviews, conducted in three waves over 18-months, as well as archival and observational data gathered over 3.5 years, I find that career pivots are radical, unconventional career transitions—often requiring some degree of “starting over,” and an accompanying loss of status and/or security. Due to these characteristics of career pivots, successful completion of the underlying psychological role movement hinges upon whether an individual can construct a compelling “career pivot self-narrative.” Thus, I use the longitudinal data to examine how self-narratives evolve across the stages of a career pivot, and eventually become enduring, thereby facilitating the pivot’s completion. My examination reveals several elements of the self-narrative, including its exposition, inciting incident, and rising action, evolve between the early and middle stages of a career pivot. Subsequently, in the late stage of a career pivot—when people are working in their new occupations—if their new occupational identity is validated and work is experienced as a calling, the self-narrative becomes enduring, and the career pivot is complete. My dissertation advances research and theory on callings and role transitions.
... Our results shed light on the role of intermediaries in the configuration of the entrepreneurial identities of Mexican SPOs and BMIs, as well as several externalities generated during the process of capturing the social and economic value, especially when social innovations are focussed on solving societal, economic and ecological social problems. Our study contributes by extending the academic discussions related to the transformation patterns of social entrepreneurship identities (Ibarra and Obodaru, 2016), the role of intermediaries within social entrepreneurship ecosystems (Dey and Lehner, 2017) and the configuration of SPOs' sustainable innovation models (Press et al., 2019). ...
... Dutton et al. (2010) highlighted that a positive work-related identity construction should strengthen employees through building social resources. However, individuals' liminal experiences limit the reconstruction or growth of organisational identities (Ibarra and Obodaru, 2016). Therefore, our insights enhance the academic debate about how ecosystem intermediaries are contributing to the configuration of the dual and hybrid nature of social entrepreneurs (Haigh et al., 2015), as well as how ecosystem intermediaries are contributing to the development and implementation of BMIs (Yunus et al., 2010;Boons and L€ udeke-Freund, 2013). ...
Article
Purpose The authors propose a theoretical basis for understanding the role of ecosystem intermediaries in the configuration of social entrepreneurship identities in social purpose organisations (SPOs) and their business model innovations (BMIs). Design/methodology/approach Adopting a retrospective multiple-case study, the authors offer insights into the paths/elements that determine the building of 44 social entrepreneurship identities in the context of an emerging economy (Mexico). Findings The study sheds light on the role of intermediaries in the configuration of the entrepreneurial identities of Mexican SPOs and BMIs, as well as several externalities generated during the process of capturing the social and economic value, especially when social innovations are focussed on solving societal, economic and ecological social problems. Research limitations/implications The first limitation is related to the analysis of intermediaries within the social entrepreneurship ecosystem, which needs more conceptual and empirical evidence. The second limitation is that the analysis focussed only on intervened SPOs, as the authors did not control for non-intervened SPOs. Thus, this allows for future in-depth analysis of intermediary efficiency in a focus group (intervened SPOs) and a control group (non-intervened SPOs). Practical implications The study also provides insights for Mexican SPOs on how a social entrepreneurship identity helps to capture the value creation of social innovations within an innovation ecosystem. Indeed, it is strongly aligned with the United Nations' Social Development Goals. Originality/value The study enhances the discussion about how intermediaries could encourage social entrepreneurial identity, as well as how intermediary intervention could facilitate the design and implementation of BMIs in the innovation ecosystem.
... 450). Thus, organizational and occupational exits are often associated with a rootless sense of grief and liminality (Conroy & O'Leary-Kelly, 2014;Ibarra & Obodaru, 2016). ...
... Unlike legacy identification, the incongruence here arises not from different perspectives on the identification (rooted in different temporal standpoints), but from one's perception of an identification as rooted in the past, and one's social reality as experienced in the present. With lingering identities, then, despite being keenly aware that one's circumstances have changed, and that there is no longer any formal connection to a particular identification target, one still feels defined by it -a common experience amongst retirees (Amabile, 2019;Reitzes & Mutran, 2006;Wendling & Sagas, 2021), workers who transition from one career to another (Ibarra & Obodaru, 2016), and organizational members promoted to more senior positions (Van Maanen, 1984). In a study of former prisoners, Toubiana (2021: 1741) takes the notion of lingering identities further, highlighting identity paralysis ("the freezing of identification with an undesirable or no longer appropriate target") as a major struggle for interviewees in life after prison, which hindered their successful reintegration into society. ...
... Mergers generate liminal spaces, in which employees experience uncertainty about the present and the future, and where they find themselves separated from many of their defining identity attributes (Beech, 2011;Conroy and O'Leary-Kelly, 2013) -an experience commonly referred to as the liminal experience (Daskalaki et al., 2016;Ibarra and Obodaru, 2016). Under these conditions, workplace identities need to be re-keyed, because the merger brings different groups into association and changes how their members experience their group membership (Van Knippenberg et al., 2002). ...
... The next section explains these rites of separation and how they were experienced quite differently in the two partnering groups of controllers. 5 Consistent with the literature, the experience resulting from a separation of meaningful identity markers is referred to as "liminal experience" (Beech, 2011;Daskalaki et al., 2016;Ibarra and Obodaru, 2016). ...
Article
In response to calls for research on the ways in which management accountants make sense of their professional identities in organisational disruptions, this paper explores their identity work during a merger. Drawing on a case study of a merger between two Dutch banks, the paper examines their identity work as they found themselves in a liminal state – i.e. “betwixt and between” workplace identities. The paper identifies two types of identity work in a merger. Inside-out identity work was the process of identity negotiation through which each partnering group sought to make sense of their own distinctive liminal experiences. This type of identity work brought about intra- and inter-professional conflict. By contrast, outside-in identity work was founded on intergroup bases of identification, which were authenticated by credible role-models. This type of identity work gave rise to the construction of a superordinate workplace identity through which incoherent workplace identities could co-exist with shared intergroup identities. The paper contributes to the literature by highlighting the persistence of incoherent identity positions of management accountants in a merger and the intergroup struggles this generates. Moreover, it illuminates the processes through which these positions can ultimately be brought closer together.
... People do this by constructing "transition bridges" that link old, new, and possible future identities (Ashforth, 2001); these enable the production of a coherent narrative, told by an agentic protagonist (Linde, 1993;McAdams, 2006b). In accounting for a forced transition, narrators draw on a variety of personal, relational, and other resources to explain their initial career choice, the transition process, and their subsequent career direction (Conroy & O'Leary-Kelly, 2014;Hoyer & Steyaert, 2015;Ibarra & Obodaru, 2016). Narratives about such difficult events can have different themes, such as "security", that describes recovery after the event (Bauer & Park, 2010), "growth", that describes a positive transformation achieved through struggle (Maitlis, 2009), or "discounting", in which the event is played down or denied (McAdams, 1999;Vough & Caza, 2017). ...
... This research was inspired by the literature on forced transitions and specifically how such transitions disrupt and are integrated into individuals' self-narratives (Ibarra & Barbulescu, 2010;Wehrle et al., 2018). Research in this tradition has shown how a forced career transition can challenge important meanings that individuals have made of their lives (Kanji & Cahusac, 2015;Kira & Klehe, 2016), and how people respond by working to construct new meanings (Ibarra & Obodaru, 2016;Zikic & Richardson, 2007). In contrast, this study highlights the importance of old meanings in this process. ...
Article
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Narrative approaches to the self suggest that forced career transitions disrupt individuals’ self-narratives and motivate their efforts to re-establish narrative coherence. To craft and rework their self-narratives, people draw on a range of relational resources, including relationships with family, friends, and other important people in their lives. In this paper, I explore the link, within individuals’ self-narratives, between people’s working lives following a forced career transition and their early parental relationships. I investigate this through a longitudinal narrative study of 21 professional dancers forced to change career after an injury, drawing on three waves of interviews over an eight-year period. I identify three types of self-narrative – Immersed-Striving, Oppositional-Seeking, and Supportive-Settling – that link a kind of early parental relationship to a kind of post-injury relationship to work. In each of these narratives, dance acts as a transitional object with a specific relational meaning – connection, agency, or direction – that was enacted in participants’ early relationships, and that they sought to re-establish through their post-injury working lives.
... Having a place from which to work in renowned areas like the City of London builds the symbolic capital of these workers and gives them the chance to "evidence" their busyness (Bellezza, Paharia, and Keinan 2017). For workers whose professional positioning may not be straightforward (Ibarra and Obodaru 2016), PTPs offer a sense of belonging to a busy lifestyle. As the Ace hotel example underlines, not all our informants are connected to the City of London's symbolic value. ...
Article
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Third places—communal or socializing places such as coffee shops—are confronted with a rising customer segment: customers who use them for work. Prior research is divided on this trend: customer-workers are seen either as a source of added value or a major threat to third places. Relying on a multimethod, qualitative study, we investigate the strategic implications of the rise of customer-workers in third places. We extend prior research by considering customer-workers as a new and valuable segment, with its specific motivations and practices. Building on the co-constitution of practices and places, we show that the rise of the customer-worker segment has fostered market differentiation. We identify four types of third places (archetypal, status quo, compromise, and productive) depending on their targeting strategy and their servicescape adaptation. We delineate how customer-workers transform third places’ value proposition and bring challenges to each type. Specifically, we show that status quo third places are most prone to customer conflicts while compromise third places generate managerial struggles. In contrast, productive third places adapt their servicescape to become work accelerators and a source of professional identity for customer-workers. We provide recommendations for managers to overcome conflicts and benefit from this growing customer base.
... The importance of liminality is well-established in the research on fluid and changing identities (Meyer and Land, 2006;Beech, 2011;Ibarra and Obodaru, 2016). Drawing on van Gennep (1960van Gennep ( [1909), Turner (1974Turner ( , 1982 disseminated the concept of liminality from anthropology to different fields of social scientific research. ...
... For instance, contemporary professional careers are no longer defined by an occupational profile, let alone one´s affiliation with one company, but by a succession of project-like (in plural!), more or less extended phases of reorientation, training and searching for the next opportunity. Thus, liminal transitions from one job/training setting to the next are becoming increasingly important, while phases of relative stability tend to be experienced as resting points on a tumultuous path (Ibarra & Obodaru, 2016). ...
Article
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Researchers have begun to recognize the importance of intuition and strategies of affectively grounded sense-making, specifically in the context of late modern societies which are characterized by high degrees of uncertainty, risk and rapidly changing environments. In fact, affectivity has been considered one of the most central features of today ́s permanently liminal forms of life. However, the roles of different varieties of affective experience have not yet been fully taken into consideration. Drawing from Gilbert Simondon ́s theory of individuation, we here focus on moods specifically and develop a theoretical perspective on how moods functionally contribute to situated sense-making under conditions of uncertainty. We thereby hope to contribute to solvingsome of the problems psychologists keep having with mood experiences. At the same time, we think that our approach will prove fruitful for studying processes of sense-making in undecided and open (social) environments. Link to the published paper: https://tidsskrift.dk/irtp/article/view/127084/173418.
... In addition, behavior can be affected by contextual aspects, such as the organizational environment in which individuals are embedded (Ibarra & Obodaru, 2016). Following this rationale, our second hypothesis can be defined as: ...
Article
Purpose The purpose of this study is to evaluate the microfoundations of student entrepreneurship, a cornerstone of innovation ecosystems. To this end, this paper assesses how perceived university support for entrepreneurship influences entrepreneurial characteristics and intentions in students enrolled at Amazonas and São Paulo State Universities. Design/methodology/approach A quantitative approach based on multivariate data analysis using confirmatory factor analysis and structural equation modeling was applied to a sample of 420 respondents. Findings Results indicate that the university environment positively influences entrepreneurial behavior and intention in students. Nonetheless, further integration between academia and external dimensions of the ecosystems is necessary to drive more intense entrepreneurial activity in students. The educational contexts of Amazonas and São Paulo present significant differences in the relationship between entrepreneurial characteristics and entrepreneurial intention with a stronger influence found for Amazonas. This finding suggests a relative lack of propensity of students from São Paulo to engage in entrepreneurial venturing. Research limitations/implications The main limitations involve the use of non-probabilistic sampling procedures and students’ heterogeneity in terms of academic seniority. Practical implications This research offers guidance for policies targeting the generation of entrepreneurial activity in universities embedded in developing countries’ innovation ecosystems and facing distinct levels of socioeconomic development. Originality/value This research presents a novel analysis of the microfoundations driving student entrepreneurship within different educational contexts in a developing country. Results highlight the necessary conditions for universities to foster entrepreneurial activity and, incidentally, feed innovation ecosystems with entrepreneurial talent.
... Further, the novelty and unfamiliarity of the tasks and challenges that a new leadership role poses for the individual may lead the individual to question their own competence and abilities-to ask themselves, "Why me?" Early in a new leadership role, individuals may feel that they are still incapable of managing other people and leading teams and projects as they lack experience in doing so. Indeed, Ibarra and Obodaru (2016) highlight that the act of stepping into a leadership role is not enough for a person to "feel like a leader"; rather, this identity process is one that takes time and experience. This implies that prior experience in leadership roles, as well as in the specific role itself, is likely to have meaningful effects on impostorism. ...
Article
Impostorism, a phenomenon whereby a person perceives that the role they occupy is beyond their capabilities and puts them at risk of exposure as a “fake,” has attracted plentiful attention in the empirical literature and popular media. However, despite evidence that impostorism is frequently experienced by people in leadership positions, there has been little consideration of why this happens. In this theoretical article, we explain why formal leadership roles—roles that are characterized by elevated expectations, high visibility, and high levels of responsibility—are fertile ground for impostorism experiences. We also discuss how the associated self-conscious emotions of shame and fear, can increase leaders’ risk-aversion and enhance leader role performance, yet at the same time drive emotional exhaustion, and reduce their motivation to lead. This can ultimately inhibit leaders from seeking, claiming, and thriving in leadership roles. We offer individual-, dyadic-, and organization-level contextual characteristics that can either enhance or reduce this phenomenon. We also discuss how supportive organizations can mitigate leadership impostorism. Furthermore, we highlight how women and minority-status leaders may be more vulnerable to this experience and conclude by suggesting the practical implications of the leader impostorism phenomenon for individuals and organizations.
... (Brown, 2015: 30). However authenticity is seen as legitimate conceptualisation of an individual's identity project and identity work has been defined as partly striving to maintain authenticity in the face of identity violations (Ibarra & Obodaru, 2016). ...
Conference Paper
The identity literature studying the relationship between individual identity and organizational controls has mostly understood controls as a coercive force. This literature seems to mainly investigate controls as mechanisms that ensure individuals evaluate and correct their behaviours and sense of self to align with what organizations believe will help deliver their objectives. From a control literature perspective, this understanding of organizational controls could be considered partial. The control literature reveals a richer and more nuanced understanding of the types of controls organizations adopt, some of which can be coercive, while others can be enabling. There seems to be a dearth of research in the identity literature that accommodates or contrasts these different types of controls. We do not know, however, what explains the lack of focus on enabling controls nor do we know whether incorporating these types of controls will add value to identity research. To address these issues, we set out to closely review the literature examining the relationship between individual identity and organizational controls as informed by both the identity and the control literatures. We theorise by developing a 2x2 typology of organizational controls and their relationship with individual identity with the aim to advance the knowledge of this relationship and to open doors for new lines of research.
... Indeed, most human sciences view in-betweenness as transitional, temporary, or paradoxical. The closest concept is liminality, but even it implies being ephemeral, and permanent liminality is viewed as dysfunctional, a sign of faulty, incomplete processing (Ibarra & Obodaru, 2016). Therefore, to capture this novel type of ongoing in-betweenness, another term will be helpful. ...
Chapter
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Each major period of civilized humanity exhibits dominant metamodels of agentic form and function, which vary in terms of capability and supportive technology. The chapter identifies three such periods. The first is premodernity, which predates the European Enlightenment and industrialization. It was characterized by stable social systems, in which agentic form and functioning were replicative. Whereas in modernity, capabilities and technologies greatly advance, and the dominant agentic metamodel is one of adaptation and developmental learning. In the contemporary period, a new digitalized agentic metamodel is emerging, reflecting the close collaboration of human and artificial agents as augmented agents. It will be dynamic, generative, and transformative. It also poses new questions and problematics, especially about the supervision of digitalized capabilities and potentialities.
... The next four chapters will present my findings and discussion by first introducing how I conceptualised online boundary management followed by a typology of digital boundary preferences. or neither here nor there; or maybe nowhere" (Turner, 1967, p. 97;Ibarra and Obodaru, 2016) when it came to their 'roles'. This meant whilst they were engaged with digital technologies, they could perform tasks for multiple roles simultaneously and this concept of being in one defined role at times vanished, allowing for more than what might be described as having integrated boundaries, it created a feeling of boundarylessness which for the Constant Connectors was vital, occasionally utilised by the Partial (Dis)connectors and rarely by the Wannabe Segmentors so they were able to meet the demands of their multiple domains at once. ...
Thesis
Technology has been criticised for blurring boundaries and making them more permeable, which has been previously portrayed as having a negative impact on work-life balance (WLB) and a cause for burnout among employees. With burnout a growing concern for organisations and governments, this thesis uses a boundary theory lens to explore the effects of technology on WLB. To improve understanding in this area, social media practitioners (SMPs) were selected as the sample to study because it could be said they are extensive users of technology and social media. Studying this group as an “extreme case” produces learnings and practices that could be applied to the rest of the social media industry and the digital workforce. Informed by a constructivist grounded theory (CGT) approach, this thesis draws from in-depth interviews with thirty-one UK SMPs and observation of an additional five SMPs, in their place of work, to investigate the role technology plays in managing boundaries between work and non-work and maintaining perceived WLB. Presented in this document are four contributions. Firstly, this thesis turns its attention to the boundaries in the digital landscape. I introduce the new term digital virtual boundary (DVB) and acknowledge how these differ from their analogue counterpart and what this means for how we manage our boundaries. This research also recognises how Clark’s (2000) “borderland” can assist role demand management and WLB when a user is within a digital virtual space. Secondly, this thesis presents a typology of new digital boundary preference groups that recognise the impact technology has on SMPs boundary preference and management. For each group, characteristics are defined so that one can identify and align themselves with the most suitable group to assist them in their boundary management style. Thirdly, technological strategies and tactics shared by my participants are listed in this thesis as a means of practices that can be adopted by others to aid them in their boundary management and technology use, to avoid burnout and maintain their ideal WLB. Lastly, the unique data collection method for this area of work, although growing in use for boundary theory, is the first time to my knowledge it has been applied to the WLB literature. Unlike its earlier counterpart grounded theory (GT), CGT places priority on the studied phenomenon over the methods of studying it and acknowledges the researcher's role in interpreting data and creating categories. This research contributes to the WLB literature and boundary theory by providing a better understanding of how employees in digital facing roles manage their boundaries and avoid burnout whilst extensively using technology. It must be noted that the data presented in this research was collected and analysed in 2019 prior to the outbreak of COVID-19. This had a significant impact not only on the way in which people work and interact with technology, but the national lockdowns have meant the majority of those employed were forced to work from home. This means now more than ever workers have undoubtedly thought about their WLB and how they manage their boundaries. This work could be of significant benefit to individuals learning to align appropriate strategies to their boundary preference.<br/
... Data analysis revealed three identity responses among the study participants: work-life identity threat, identity reflection, and identity reconstruction. While the confinement was initially appraised as a negative event disrupting their habits and routines, over time individuals seemed to perceive it as an opportunity to reflect on their past, present, and future selves and use these reflections as a starting point for identity change (Ibarra & Obodaru, 2016). ...
Article
During the COVID-19 pandemic many countries enforced mandatory stay-at-home orders. The confinement period that took place may be regarded as a multi-domain work-life shock event, severely disrupting both the professional and the family sphere. Taking an identity lens, this study examines whether and how identity changed during confinment by drawing from a diary study consisting of 14 working parents who filled out a daily diary over a period of seven weeks of mandated home confinement in France. The findings suggest how both work-related and family-related identity change may occur when individuals are confronted with a multi-domain work-life shock event such as the pandemic. Further, the findings point to three identity responses to this event: work-life identity threat, work-life identity reflection, and work-life identity reconstruction. For most participants, the seven-week period resulted in significant and positive shifts in their work and family identities to better align with their internal beliefs rather than relying on societally imposed expectations about what it means to be a good parent and worker.
... They maintain that it offers a lens through which to analyse "indeterminacy, precarity and insecurity across different employment sectors in contemporary workplaces" (Reed & Thomas, 2019, p. 1) and "temporary elements of organizing and work" (Söderlund & Borg, 2018). In the world of work, liminality portrays open-ended or extended time periods of self-guided process, self-made communitas and incomplete or culturally problematic narrative where new scripts emerge (Ibarra & Obodaru, 2016). ...
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... One reason may lie in the existence of a scale for career adaptability, the C-AAS scale (Savickas & Porfeli, 2012), which has been translated and validated in many languages. In comparison, research on identity either uses different scales (McArdle et al., 2007), measures identity within the conceptual frame of the protean career (e.g., Waters et al., 2014), or relies on qualitative research (e.g., Ibarra & Obodaru, 2016). ...
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... However, much of social media presents a new realm of possibilities in terms of boundary management, in turn allowing for more distinct selves to exist simultaneously, if navigated correctly. Engaging in multiple networks may be of particular use to individuals experiencing periods of liminality and/or active transition (Conroy & O'Leary-Kelly, 2014;Ibarra & Obodaru, 2016). Social media platforms such as Twitter, TikTok, and Discord, allow individuals to build networks in a purely rhetorical format; ties can be developed solely through conversation, even if an individual is unfamiliar with the behaviors associated with a relevant identity. ...
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Purpose The purpose of this study is to investigate professional identity development among management professionals through the lens of the ideal self and personal values. Design/methodology/approach Detailed career vision essays based on the ideal self and personal values of 48 participants ranging in age from 22 to 54 were analyzed using an inductive thematic analysis. A theory-based classification of their personal values, collected through a survey, was also conducted as a supplemental analysis. Findings The visions of older management professionals were less career-oriented, more holistic, involved in a greater multiplicity of career roles, had more clarity and placed higher emphasis on work–life balance and on developing others. The older participants also reported having fewer self-enhancement values. Originality/value The findings demonstrate the relevance of the ideal self as a lens to study identity development and advance our understanding of professional identity development in the context of modern careers.
Chapter
Within the milieu of educational change in the twenty-first century in Aotearoa New Zealand, teachers have been asked to traverse myriad and complex transitions in their pedagogical practice and their physical environments. During times of transition and change, teachers endeavour to maintain their focus on their professional practice and simultaneously traverse a space in which they can become suspended ‘betwixt and between’ (Cook-Sather in Anthropol Educ Q 37:110–127, 2006). Known as the liminal space, both positive and negative issues can occupy it during a time of significant change. Consequently, the liminal space can have an impact on the success of any change initiative as teachers individually and collectively navigate such processes. This chapter discusses the findings of a small scale study that explored the experiences of junior school primary teachers as they moved from their single cell classrooms into two newly constructed innovative learning environments. Responses to a survey comprising a variety of Likert-type and open-ended questions guided the subsequent semi-structured interviews with purposively selected teacher participants. Thematic analysis highlighted that the main occupiers of teachers’ liminal space as they navigated transition and change were the pedagogical practice implications; professional conversations; collegial relationships; and, vision for the innovative learning environment. We subsequently identified seven pragmatic preparations which could support teachers’ transition from single celled practices to practices associated with an innovative learning environment, by helping teachers prepare to make productive use of their liminal space. The study’s findings led to our contention that teachers should be supported to develop their knowledge and understanding of the liminal space as they anticipate moving to an innovative learning environment. Our belief is that when teachers are able to use the liminal space productively and creatively, they are more likely to embrace change and contribute positively to it.
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Despite the improving economy, consolidation and staff reductions characterize the human resource staffing policies of many firms. Furthermore, economic and demographic pressures indicate that involuntary job loss will be an increasingly common experience for managers and professionals in the coming decade. Based on a synthesis of empirical studies, this paper proposes a model showing factors which may generate career growth from job loss. Organizational strategies are recommended for creative management of this career transition and suggestions are provided to focus future research.
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Through two qualitative studies, we examine how members of a particularly demanding occupation conduct identity work to negotiate an optimal balance between personal and social identities. Findings are based on open-ended survey responses from and in-depth interviews with Episcopal priests. We first explore the situational and vocational demands placed on those in challenging occupations, along with the identity tensions that often result from those demands. We then specify and classify several identity work tactics that ameliorate these demands and tensions by differentiating or integrating personal and social identities. To synthesize findings, we develop a theoretical model of identity work.
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By working with and through the paradoxes present in the resource-based view (RBV) of strategic management, scholars can advance understanding concerning the contradictions and tensions inherent in creating and sustaining superior firm performance. We identify and discuss various RBV paradoxes, illustrating how paradoxical thinking can enhance theorizing and open up new vistas for knowing and understanding. Finally, we discuss the utility of the paradoxical perspective in furthering RBV scholarship.
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This article introduces the construct of alternative selves-self-redefining counterfactuals that are part of the self-concept. This construct adds the parallel time line of what could have been to the temporal framework underlying theories of the self. I discuss how alternative selves develop and how they influence people's professional lives, and I outline the implications of this construct for research on the self-concept, life stories, and counterfactual thinking.
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The concept of multiplicity describes the fluid nature of identity and experience in the wake of postmodernity. Yet the question of how we negotiate and maintain our identities, despite our multiplicities, requires phenomenological clarification. I suggest that recognition of multiplicity needs to be combined with an acknowledgement of continuity, however minimal. I maintain that this continuity is evidenced in our pre-reflective self-awareness, embodiment and habitual activities. Our authorship of life narratives and our ability to deliberate and shape our identities takes place against the background of our lived, prereflective experience. I develop the notion of prereflective self-awareness using the work of Sartre, Heidegger and Merleau-Ponty. I suggest that prereflective self-awareness, embodiment and habitual activity are themselves shaped by our participation in sociocultural frameworks that give meaning to our lives.
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Past research in both the transitions to adulthood literature and cultural sociology more broadly suggests that the working class relies on traditional cultural models in their construction of identity. In the contemporary post-industrial world, however, traditional life pathways are now much less available to working-class men and women. I draw on 93 interviews with black and white working-class young people in their 20s to 30s and ask, in an era of increasing uncertainty, where traditional markers of adulthood have become tenuous, what kinds of cultural models do working-class young people employ to validate their adult identities? In contrast to previous studies of working-class identity, I found that respondents embraced a model of therapeutic selfhood—that is, an inwardly directed self preoccupied with its own psychic development. I demonstrate that the therapeutic narrative allows working-class men and women to redefine competent adulthood in terms of overcoming a painful family past. Respondents required a witness to validate their performances of adulthood, however, and the inability to find one left many lost in transition.
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This paper extends existing social and behavioral science knowledge by placing explicit emphasis on concept-formation issues as they pertain to organizational science. Moreover, the paper (a) introduces in a detailed manner the notions of concept traveling and concept stretching, (b) provides a clear treatment of various conceptual abstraction levels, (c) articulates and offers the negation approach, and (d) shows how to attain the abstraction levels via the use of the negation approach to concept formation.
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We review literature on three important aspects of identity - namely, identification, identity enactment, and self-verification - to develop an identity-based framework for understanding organizational issues. We then analyze three major dimensions through which telecommuting alters the social context of work and interaction (location of work, time spent telecommuting, and voluntary nature) and discuss the implications of telecommuting within the identity-based framework. Finally, we explore the implications that telecommuting has for identity-related theories.
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Occupations often have been defined as belonging to a particular class of work, linked to a single occupational rhetoric. In contrast, I argue here that most occupations are segmented in terms of divisions among workers, among work tasks, and among occupational identities. I present evidence from an ethnographic study of restaurant cooks to demonstrate that workers rely on a variety of occupational rhetorics as resources to define their work and their identity. I claim that cooks draw on the alternative rhetorics of profession, art, business, and labor to shape how they think of themselves as workers. The paper shows that occupational identity is socially, temporally, and spatially situated, raising the question of when particular rhetorical strategies will be relied upon.
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When adaptation requires innovation, or the creation of variety, exploration is crucial. High levels of exploration thus imply variance-seeking rather than mean-seeking learning processes. In a study of 56 new business development projects, given high exploration, organizational learning was more effective when the projects operated with autonomy with respect to goals and supervision. As degree of exploration de creased, better results were associated with less autonomy on both counts. This contingent effect persisted even when I controlled for the emergence of deftness and comprehension.
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In this autoethnography I provide a reflective-reflexive account of my search for an(other) identity following my move from my native Bavaria to North West England. It is a story of contradiction and uncertainty, which addresses issues of national identity and cultural adaptation. I offer a human portrait of how I experienced the interaction of agency and structure in my endeavor to become British and how I became embroiled in a moral, ethical, and emotional turmoil of conflicting imperatives. The key themes, through which I make explicit the struggle to create a coherent narrative of my self in relation to experiences of belonging, difference, and attachment in social, cultural, and political spaces, are departure and arrival, border crossing, and a disoriented self in transit. In presenting this multilayered account, I employ the technique of performance frames in the form of three literary categories, epic, drama and lyric, through which I revisit critical events and elucidate the gradual process of bringing my innermost feelings and thoughts to the surface. By weaving a rich tapestry of evocative, analytical, and theoretical materials I make explicit the complexities involved in autoethnographic research. Through inviting others to embark with me on this inner journey, I seek to assist those who find themselves similarly suspended in liminal spaces and to engender empathy and understanding among those who act as hosts toward border crossers like myself. Ultimately, I hope that my autoethnography provides a communicative, potentially subversive space, which invites critical reflection and discussion on the intersectionality of collective identities and thereby promotes individuals' freedom to choose, negotiate, and translate their cultural identities freely regardless of their cultural, social, or ethnic origins.
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We develop theory about how growing at work is an interpretive accomplishment in which individuals sense that they are making progressive self-change. Through a study of how employees interpret themselves as growing at three organizations, we develop a theoretical account of how employees draw from contextual and personal resources to interpret their growing in ways that embed their idiosyncratic experiences within an organization. The data suggest that employees develop three different types of growing self-construals: achieving, learning, and helping. We use our data to ground theory that explains the development of growing self-construals as deeply embedded in organizations. At the same time, we suggest that growing self-construals reflect individual agency through how individuals work with available resources to weave interpretations of themselves into their growing self-construals. We further suggest that growing self-construals influence the actions employees take to support a sense of progressive self-change.
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This paper describes the way in which a hospital stay functions as a period of liminality. The opportunities for transformation inherent in such an experience are examined, with special attention given to the role of the hospital chaplain as the "ritual leader" who can help facilitate the movement through liminality and into wholeness.
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Research on roles and identities generally represents a micro perspective that does not account for the reconstruction of professional role identity, owing to insufficient attention to institutional forces. We trace institutional influences on professional role identity reconstruction and extend theory by building bridges across institutional, organizational, and individual levels of analysis. Findings indicate that agentic reconstruction of professional role identity is enabled and constrained by an institutional environment that provides interpretive, legitimating, and material resources that professionals adopt and adapt. Institutional forces also impact organizational arrangements that further influence microlevel agency. We elaborate interactions among these three levels of analysis.
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The present interpretive work explores the consumption experiences of pregnant women transitioning to mother roles, focusing specifically upon the consumption of maternity dress, which has not been previously considered within the context of liminal consumption. Of particular interest were if and how the consumption of maternity dress may shape the self during the liminal transition of pregnancy. Findings revealed that consumption of maternity dress during pregnancy both complicated and supported participants’ embodied experiences as liminal, pregnant selves and their transition to motherhood. Three overarching themes were identified and reflect the ways in which participants’ consumption practices were tightly bound with their identities, which, in turn, represented a repertoire of possible selves that often diverged from the participants’ current identities. Specifically, the three emergent themes included: (1) maternity dress consumption representing disruption in the ‘Woman I Am Most of the Time,’ (2) maternity dress consumption to affirm one’s new identity as ‘Pregnant/Expectant Mother,’ and (3) maternity dress consumption to maintain continuity in the ‘Woman I Am Most of the Time.’ Findings also underscored that consumption during liminality is complex, both inciting and relieving ambivalence during role transition.
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This study examines change initiated from the center of mature organizational fields. As such, it addresses the paradox of embedded agency — that is, the paradox of how actors enact changes to the context by which they, as actors, are shaped. The change examined is the introduction of a new organizational form. Combining network location theory and dialectical theory, we identify four dynamics that form a process model of elite institutional entrepreneurship.