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This article builds on existing research on social identity and organizational identity to theoretically examine ways individuals create their own personal work identities. Individual work identity refers to a work-based self-concept, comprised of a combination of organizational, occupational, and other identities, that affects the roles people adopt and the corresponding ways they behave when performing their work. We show how individuals' identification with their organizations and/or occupations can be used to create their work identity, and we suggest this process will be based on the degree to which membership in these groups enhances their distinction and status. We argue that these concepts depend on whether individuals view their work as jobs, careers, or callings, as well as on whether individuals pursue a traditional career strategy versus a boundaryless career one. Finally, we offer propositions exploring the impact of identity creation on individuals' job performance and turnover intentions. We discuss the implications of our ideas for not only research in organizational identity, but also for research that explores the human resource implications of organizational actions.


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© Elsevier. DOI:10.1016/j.hrmr.2007.09.001.Final version published as: Walsh, K., & Gordon, J. R. (2008). Creating an individual work identity. Human Resource Management Review, 18(1), 46-61. Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.