Same but Different: Meta-Organization and Collective Identity Dynamics
This article analyzes how a meta-organization (M-O) can shape a coherent collective identity over time. Previous foundational work on identity formation in M-Os has provided fragmented but insightful ideas on several activities that this process entails. However, we currently lack a dynamic, integrative, and empirically supported model that demonstrates how these activities interrelate to shape a coherent collective identity over time. Using an in-depth case study of an association of cider producers in Québec (Canada) over a 23-year period, we develop a model of collective identity dynamics, in which an M-O plays an orchestrator role that is both dual and continuous. On the one hand, an M-O balances the internal identity claims of its organizational members through alignment and differentiation. On the other hand, an M-O builds an externally coherent identity by assembling and positioning legitimacy among institutional actors. Our paper provides new insights into activities performed by an M-O during identity creation by analyzing whether this process includes both organizational and institutional actors, thereby reinforcing the intermediary nature of an M-O. Furthermore, it contributes to the collective identity dynamics literature by elaborating the stabilizing role of a bounded organization in collective identity dynamics at the interorganizational level.
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