Article Information

Managing the Multiple Identities of the Corporation
Balmer, John M.T., and Stephen A. Greyser
44/3  (Spring 2002): 72-86

In the wake of corporate acquisitions, mergers, and spin-offs, considerable senior management attention has been devoted to corporate identity and its communication to key stakeholder groups. This article provides a framework to help management achieve clearer understanding and better management of their corporation’s identities. Many firms operate with a belief in a single monolithic corporate identity. Our research leads to a different view: organizations have multiple identities. We delineate five kinds of identity, within a framework termed the AC2ID TestTM (ACCID), namely, the actual, communicated, conceived, ideal, and desired identities. These reflect respectively: the current, distinct attributes of the organization; what the organization communicates about itself; the perceptions of the corporation by stakeholders; the optimum positioning for the organization; and corporate vision from the perspective of the CEO or management board. Not only should management understand its multiple identities, it also should be alert to critical misalignments among them, as these can seriously weaken a company.


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