The Organizational Behavious Area & the Business and Managment Research Centre presents
Identity Elasticity in the Episcopal Church and Anglican
How Much Can We Change and Still Be "Us"?
Pennsylvania State University
Smeal College of Business
Friday, November 6, 2009
12:30 - 14:00
1001 Sherbrooke St. W RM 178
All are cordially invited to attend
In the summer of 2003, the Episcopal Church USA (a member of the worldwide Anglican Communion) voted to elect its first openly gay bishop, Rev. Gene Robinson. This event triggered considerable debate, not merely in the U.S., but across the globe as members of the Anglican Communion argued both in favor and against these precedent-setting actions. In the U.S., the leadership of several dioceses and hundreds of parishes have left or are considering leaving the Episcopal Church. On the global scene, conservative leaders in the Anglican Communion have insisted that the Episcopal Church be sanctioned by the Communion, and the organizational structure of the Communion will likely be changed, giving the Episcopalians a subordinated status. Clearly, these events spark sensemaking and sensegiving about organizational identity – that which is central, distinctive, and relatively enduring about an organization. Examining the Episcopal Church and its relationship to the Anglican Communion over a six year period with multiple methods, we developed a grounded theory of organizational identity elasticity, the ability for an organizational identity to stretch and change without “breaking” in the views of individuals and/or collectives. Our analyses reveal important characteristics of elasticity, forces which enable or contrain it, and processes for managing it. We examine how six overarching dialectics are central to organizational elasticity processes and consider their implications for identity management.