MetaTOC stay on top of your field, easily

Long Lost: The Emotional Side of Identification--Complementing SIT With Psychoanalytic Insights

Journal of Management Inquiry

Published online on


In this essay, I aim to complement social identity theory (SIT) concepts of identification with insights from psychoanalysis to address three problematic aspects: (a) SIT emphasizes cognition and often neglects emotions, (b) emotions—if mentioned —are primarily positive, and (c) SIT-based concepts can be used to inspire simplified ideas of identification management. I argue that psychoanalytic insights can help us attend to these problematic aspects and help us advance our understanding of identification in organizations: they add an emotional focus on identification that can better explain strong relationships than a cognitive focus alone; they add the full range of emotions (positive to negative), which means that identification can also go along with negative emotions; and they also add a distinction between identification and narcissistic attachments that involve different motivations, dynamics, and predictive potentials. I illustrate these points in an example from Pratt and highlight implications for future research.