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The Myth of Manageability of Corporate Identity

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Organizations and their environments are changing continuously. In an attempt to cope with fierce international competition, many organizations adapt their strategy and restructure their organization. The change of strategy often goes hand-in-hand with an attempt to improve the corporate image and strengthen the brand. Changing circumstances may require a different kind of company with different identity attributes. Under these changing circumstances, management tends to delineate the desired corporate identity or image without having a clear conception of the company's actual identity, let alone of the existence of different identities within the company. Ideally, such a conception should form the basis of a planned change of identity. Corporate identity has emerged in literature of the last decade as a multifaceted phenomenon that has been looked at and defined from many perspectives. Various academics in the field hold that we are still at the beginning of our attempt to sound the depth of the concept. To date, there is no unambiguous, generally agreed upon definition of corporate identity. Despite the lack of definitional agreement on the nature of corporate identity, the international literature on corporate communications and strategic management of recent years shows a growing consensus in the business and academic communities on the importance of corporate identity (Balmer, 1995, p. 29). A favorable corporate identity is considered one of an organization's most important assets and therefore deserves management's constant attention. A changing or multiple corporate identity can create instability; this may adversely influence a company's internal processes and its corporate image, and thus endanger the realization of strategic targets. Management should be aware of these risks and act accordingly. But how manageable are corporate identities? The results of the case study discussed in this article provide an answer to this pertinent question.Corporate Reputation Review (2002) 5, 20–34; doi:10.1057/palgrave.crr.1540162
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2002-04-01

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