Science: Masterthesis mindmap

Master thesis organizational identity mindmapIf you are interested in what my master-thesis in communication will be about, click the thumbnail and you’ll see a mindmap.

In the map, I tried to combine all the theories I would like to discuss in the thesis. From organizational theories (e.g. Max Weber, Mintzberg) to the discussion about formal and informal structures of organizations, psychoanlytical organization theory (starts with Freud, happ 150th, anyway!), organizational culture and to my core object: organizational identity. (Albert & Whetten wrote a lot about it)

You can perceive organizational identity from different viewpoints, analyze it, make it visible with different matters: narration (look at stories told), actions (Giddens structuralization: how people shape social structures by acting and act according to social structures – yes, a self-referential system), psychological (the schizophrenic organization, creepy, hugh?) and of course the whole marketing and pr-guidelines about corporate identity, corporate actions, mission statements and so on. All of them are different views on organizational identity.

My own special viewpoint is the systemic view. I will try to see an organization as a social system. Luhmann, Maturana & Varela, Baecker and Seidl have been writing about this subject and Spencer-Brown has the most formalistic, mathematical position.

It’s a highly complex and theoretical field, nevertheless, one important problem for my thesis is the difficulty of perceiving yourself, your identity. Who is able to talk about your identity? You? Those who know you? Your psychiatrist, the “objective perceiver”? Society?

Varela wrote about the biological implications and the problem of one perceiving him or herself (human senses, human brain, human reality). Just like the philosophical Frankfurt school (Horkheimer, Adorno), the constructionists, he stated that every reality is constructed. Spencer-Brown tried to solve the problem with a re-entry process between marked and unmarked space.

I will assume the position that one is able to perceive at least important parts of his/herown identity. So, organizations as well have an identity and are able to see it. But how?

Digging deeper into system theory, the distinction between system and environment, inside and outside of the organization will remain important. Because that is what identity is about: Who are you? It is easier to answer the following question: Who are you not? What is the essence that distinguishes you from all the rest, that makes you unmistakable? This is what call identity distinction.

Of course, organizational identity is also about sense. Identity is part of the sense of an organization, the reason why it exists and the reason for the identification of its members. Also, identity is about interaction and communication, you will see different parts of your own identity through the eyes of the others.

So we have distinction and sense. All stuff that happens in the head of the people. And then there’s discourse and communication, dynamic over the time, reflecting in actions. But in the scientific-analytical end, it is about contents. You need something to analyze.

This the basic connection to Blogs. I will look at the texts in blogs, not forgetting that they are about pictures and videos and links as well. Blogs can be a lot of things, beyond all technological ways to describe them.

Blogs are stories. They are unfiltered personal information. People talk about their lives, also about their organizations. Where they work, study, do politics.

It’s communication and discussion. Can a blog be perceived as a social system as described above? Absolutely, in fact, it’s only communication and the person(s) behind is(are) almost unvisible (much like Luhmann states so often: Systems consist of communication, not of people. “If you cut your hair, do you cut something from the society?” Anyway..)

In the very end, I want to answer the question, if blogs can contribute to analyzing and shaping an organizational identity.
It is complex but exciting. I will be posting some updates here.

Over at the hard blogging scientists, they discuss if sharing ideas in blogs might harm the career of a scientist. Actually, I cannot think of any argument to support that thought. Ideas need to be released. And if you are afraid that they might get stolen you just don’t have enough. And you are blocking yourself.