Service to others beyond self: Callings and authoring authenticity through identity work

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Abstract / Description of output

The question of the interaction between individual, occupational and organizational identities, and their interrelation with the human drive for authenticity is topical for contemporary organizations and organizing (Kreiner et al., 2006; Cable et al., 2013; Creed et al., 2010; Fraher and Gabriel, 2014; Rogers et al., 2016; Vough, 2012). In this paper, drawing on written accounts and semi-structured interviews with 32 former Catholic priests (n=14) and seminarians (n=18) (FCPS) who trained together yet all subsequently left the priesthood, we explore the dynamics of the relationship between these distinct founts of identity by presenting our inductively generated Phased Transitions Map. The map is enabled by our rich, substantial data, which traces back the life stories of individuals over a period of forty years. Our map indicates six different phases of identity work - calling, contradiction, shock, ambiguity, evolution and anchoring and includes the identity challenges and reconciliation measures embedded in each phase. This extreme case, involving former members of a total, greedy institution (Coser, 1957; Kreiner et al., 2006) shows how individuals use identity work to create, sustain and when necessary, revise, their identities and occupations in search for authenticity (cf. Costas and Fleming, 2009). The importance of the schema lies in the way it explains the identity work of FCPS and contributes new insight to our extant understanding of calling, anchoring and identity work in relation to the authoring of authenticity. The paper also theorizes the implications of such transitions among professionals in organizations that depend on them to function effectively.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2017
EventEuropean Group for Organization Studies 2017 - Copenhagen Business School, Copenhagen, Denmark
Duration: 6 Jul 20178 Jul 2017


ConferenceEuropean Group for Organization Studies 2017
Abbreviated titleEGOS


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