Managing the identity paradox in inter‐organisational collaborations

Kourti, Isidora (2021). Managing the identity paradox in inter‐organisational collaborations. European Management Review (Early access).

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/emre.12485

Abstract

A persistent contradiction in inter-organisational collaborations (IOCs) is between individual actors' IOC identity and their other multiple identities, and the subsequent need to maintain a delicate balance between these opposing but mutually dependent identities. Using a paradox lens and individual actors as the unit of analysis, this ethnographic study defines the “identity paradox” often present in IOCs as the interaction between actors' professional, personal, team and organisational identities with an overall IOC identity. The case demonstrates that the identity paradox allows actors to maintain a balance between adhering to IOC, which offers stability, and adjusting to emergent needs, which enables innovative behaviour. The theorisation of the identity paradox reveals that the conditions that trigger each identity tension relate to the IOC tensions of cooperation and competition, rigidity and flexibility, trust and mistrust, and confrontation and dialogue. The findings offer contribution to IOC research and to management practice.

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