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Title: Construing Organizational Identity: The Role of Embodied Cognition
Author(s): Celia V. Harquail and Adelaide Wilcox King
Reference: Organization Studies, 2010, 31 (12), 1619-1648

This paper presents a theory of organizational identity based on embodied cognition. Embodied cognitive science focuses on developing theories that reveal how humans’ capacities to process information and gain knowledge are functions of bodily experiences. What members come to know about an organization is a function of what they physically experience, as well as what is in their heads. We propose and examine four embodied capacities that members use to construe what they believe is central, distinctive, and enduring about their organizations. We suggest this approach reveals an important fourth dimension of OI: that an individual’s construal of organizational identity must also be ‘substantiated’ or verified by a member’s embodied experiences. We consider how an embodied construal of OI might add to three dominant perspectives on OI, and discuss how it might expand our understanding of six OI-related topics, ranging from individual organizational identification to large-scale organizational change. We close with suggestions for future research, including new empirical methods and perhaps a reexamination of organizational cognition as a whole.


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