Something of collaborative manufacture: The construction of race and gender identities in organizations

Foldy, E.G.
Journal of Applied Behavioral Science

Using qualitative data, this paper documents how organizations contribute to the construction of their members’ race and gender identities.  Data collection took place in four organizations, from a small nonprofit to a large financial services firm.  Using interactions as the unit of analysis, I compiled and investigated a database of 114 interactions, creating a process model of how working in an organization can spotlight and change the expression of racial, ethnic and gender identities.  The paper makes four contributions: it suggests a broader reach for organizational influence on individual identity, since earlier research has explored work-related identities; it distinguishes among levels of influence by isolating the discrete role of interpersonal encounters, organizational practices, and the combination of the two; it casts light on how identity construction happens even without intentional effort by individuals or organizations; and it illustrates the importance of modest changes in the construction of identity.

Wagner Faculty