Academy of Management
Academy of Management Review
Despite recognizing the importance of personal identification in organizations, researchers have rarely explored its dynamics. We define personal identification as perceived oneness with another individual, where one defines oneself in terms of the other. While many scholars have found that personal identification is associated with helpful effects, others have found it harmful. To resolve this contradiction, we distinguish between three paths to personal identification—threat-focused, opportunity-focused, and closeness-focused paths—and articulate a model that includes each. We examine the contextual features, how individuals’ identities are constructed, and the likely outcomes that follow in the three paths. We conclude with a discussion of how the threat-, opportunity-, and closeness-focused personal identification processes potentially blend, as well as implications for future research and practice.