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date: 17 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Why do people work so hard to establish and grow an identity that is positive? Individuals in their work organizations engage in ongoing identity work to establish and sustain positive identities in pursuit of life, energy, viability, well-being, and growth. However, the pursuit of positive identities does not altogether negate the negative, nor is it a simple, linear path to growth. It is often a complex process, riddled with contradiction and tension, with aspirational identities paradoxically unfolding in a persistent tension with their opposites that can be residuals from past history and/or emergent from current crisis or perceived future threat. The literature exploring positive identities (part of a larger stream of a ‘positive’ turn in psychology and organizational scholarship) has grown steadily over the past two decades. The novel focus of this chapter is to explore the paradoxical, tensional aspects of and tactics involved in positive identity work, highlighting current perspectives, criticisms, and ways forward in research.

Keywords: positive identity, paradox, identity work, positive organizational scholarship, organization

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