Organizational Identity at a Nigerian Integrated Food Processing Company: The Case of Feed Me Ventures Limited

2019-01-18T15:01:25Z (GMT) by Temiloluwa O. Wright
Research in organizational identity as pioneered by Albert and Whetten (1985) provides that organizational identity is central, enduring and distinctive. As Gioia et al. (2013) put it, “what we know about organizational identity, including its dynamic aspects, is based on the study of organizations located within a single and uniform geographic market (U.S./European) and/or stable institutional environment (developed markets)” (p. 180). This study thus carries research in organizational identity forward by locating it at an integrated food manufacturing company, Feed Me Ventures Limited, in the non-western, developing country, Nigeria. As businesses expand globally, it becomes pertinent for global organizations and managers in organizations outside the West to become aware of possibly divergent forms of organizational identity and formation processes that may exist. Nigeria is a community faced with unstable and corrupt leadership, a volatile economy directly impacted by its own created as well as global instabilities as well as a culture that is very different from those of the communities in which organizational identity has traditionally been studied. To accomplish the goals of this study, an inductive analysis is conducted using ethnographic observation, document analysis and grounded theory interviewing. This method is deemed most appropriate as this is an exploratory study to find what organizational identity may look like in Nigeria. Findings provide that while the conceptualization of organizational identity in the literature hold true, the environment greatly affects organizational identity. The founder of Feed Me Ventures Limited had developed organizational identity in direct opposition to societal values thereby emphasizing the distinctiveness dimension of organizational identity more than would normally be expected. Also, there is an adaptational dimension to organizational identity at Feed Me Ventures Limited which allows it to adapt to different needs in the environment in order to survive and retain its core identity. This is similar to adaptive instability which is already established in the literature except that at Feed Me Ventures Limited, when new identity dimensions are adapted in reaction to the environment, these dimensions only serve to help the organization retain its core identity. Furthermore, the relationship between organizational identity claims and organizational identity understanding among organizational members revealed the existence of an organizational identity gap (OI gap). This refers to a situation where claims about “who we are” from senior management does not align with understanding of “who we are” by organizational members. Also interesting is that social constructionist views about organizational identity being developed through the interactions of organizational members is found to be true at Feed Me Ventures Limited where organizational members, in their social interactions, begin to form notions of “who we are” that are not derived from claims about “who we are” from management. This study concludes that it is important for organizational leaders to acknowledge environment variables, engage in organizational diagnosis to find OI gaps and consider further this concept of adaptation and how this might serve organizations in environments similar to Nigeria.