From Synchronizing to Harmonizing: The Process of Authenticating Multiple Work Identities

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Brianna Barker Caza, Associate Professor (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
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Abstract: To understand how people cultivate and sustain authenticity in multiple, often shifting, work roles, we analyze qualitative data gathered over five years from a sample of 48 plural careerists—people who choose to simultaneously hold and identify with multiple jobs. We find that people with multiple work identities struggle with being, feeling, and seeming authentic both to their contextualized work roles and to their broader work selves. Further, practices developed to cope with these struggles change over time, suggesting a two-phase emergent process of authentication in which people first synchronize their individual work role identities and then progress toward harmonizing a more general work self. This study challenges the notion that consistency is the core of authenticity, demonstrating that for people with multiple valued identities, authenticity is not about being true to one identity across time and contexts, but instead involves creating and holding cognitive and social space for several true versions of oneself that may change over time. It suggests that authentication is the emergent, socially constructed process of both determining who one is and helping others see who one is.

Additional Information

Administrative Science Quarterly, 63, 4, 703-745.
Language: English
Date: 2018
authenticity, multiple work identities, plural careerists, authentication, impression management

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