Multiple Identity Organizations and Performance: A Review of Catholic Institutions of Higher Education in the US and Their Business Departments

Multiple Identity Organizations and Performance: A Review of Catholic Institutions of Higher Education in the US and Their Business Departments

Carlos Miguel Baldo (Colorado Mesa University, USA), Kyle S. Hull (Aquinas College, USA) and Simón Aristeguieta-Trillos (Clarion University of Pennsylvania, USA)
Copyright: © 2019 |Pages: 17
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-4972-7.ch008


This chapter discusses multiple identity organizations and the implications this holds for multi-level mission-driven institutions. This review examines congruency between organizational mission statements as an identity utilitarian element, and rules and regulations as an identity normative element. In addition, the authors argue that organizational outcomes should be aligned with each of these multiple identities. The review uses a sample of Catholic universities and higher education institutions within the United States for analysis. The scholarly research emphasis of business departments/schools among these institutions is the common element used to measure this relationship. Bibliometrics and written language analysis were utilized. The findings provide initial evidence for misalignment and incongruence between their multiple identities and organizational outcomes.
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Ashforth and Mael (1989) suggested that within organizations, there are individual employees with multiple identities, and therefore, differing levels and types of organizational commitment. While this is true at the individual level, this notion may also be expanded into the macro-organizational context. Specifically, they proposed exploring whether such situations (“an organization with multiple identities”) exist. The concept of multiple identity organizations should be understood as companies or associations that have a well-defined identity, as well as other direct and/or indirect identities due to their dependency with stakeholders, and/or rules and regulations that must be followed.

Albert and Whetten (1985) described multiple identity organizations as those in which “two or more types” of characters compose their identities. The characters considered are both normative (traditions, symbols, and ideology) and utilitarian (organizational interests, or rationality) system elements. Under normal conditions, these characters are unlikely to interact, but may, either “alternatively or simultaneously”. The authors use this concept to refer to hybrid identity. This description is used by Foreman and Whetten (2002) to base their research in the topic. The following chapter argues that a normative system (member rules and regulations) can be bonded with a utilitarian system (own identity based on their mission statement), and that they can coexist, and in some cases, generate outcomes that satisfy both identities.

There is a large body of literature supporting the idea that organizational mission statements are an important element of organizational identity (Melewar, 2003; Morphew & Hartley, 2006; J. A. Pearce & David, 1987; Young, 2001). Gibson, Newton and Cochran (1992) conceptualized mission statements as an “enduring statement of purpose that distinguishes the organization from others of its type and identifies the scope of its operations in product (service) and market terms.” Juxtaposing organizational identity and the mission statement, enables clarity concerning the connection between them. Nevertheless, as indicated above, the normative part (rules and regulations) of the multiple identity can be broad compared to the utilitarian identity (mission statement) which should be narrower. To overcome disparities between the normative and utilitarian scope, we suggest that dissecting these on common elements will make for easier comparison and analysis of their alignment. In this chapter, we will elaborate on “research” as a common element in both normative and utilitarian frames.

This chapter reviews the existence of this duality within Catholic higher education institutions in the US. These institutions, regardless of having their own identity, must follow guidelines from a supra-organization (the Catholic Church), which defines what their identity should be. Not following such parameters may compromise their identification as Catholic. In addition to the theoretical review, we use descriptive analysis to support what is expected from the theoretical literature review.

This chapter addresses the following research questions:

  • RQ1: To what degree are the Catholic Universities and Higher Educational Institutions mission statements congruent to the Catholic Church normative system, in the context of their identity?

  • RQ2: What is the influence of accreditation bodies on the level of research conducted at Catholic Universities and Higher Educational Institutions in the context of business as an academic discipline?

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