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date: 17 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter argues that studies that embrace some notion of networks, supply chains, and markets in exploring identity can enhance the wider identity field in organization studies. The authors show that boundary spanners engage in identity work from a particular position of liminality where the tensions of identity become amplified. Hence, in their identity work, boundaries oscillate as they seek to define who counts as ‘the other’; and different identity levels are juxtaposed and particular characteristics activated to legitimize their role. The picture emerges of incoherence and irresolution in identity work as central to interactions across organizational boundaries. Nevertheless, the literature also regards the construction of identity as critical to effective performance in inter-organizational relationships and to how the employing organization is positioned in a variety of networks. This identity work is, therefore, fundamental to opportunities and constraints available to the organization. Important and consequential questions about the role of identity in power and agency are thus emerging.

Keywords: identity work, boundary spanners, inter-organizational relationships, networks, supply chains

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