How to Nail the Multiple Identities of an Organization? A Content Analysis of Projected Identity

Robert Heckert*, Jelle Boumans, Rens Vliegenthart

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Multiple-identity organizations possess identity characteristics that belong to different and potentially conflicting value systems. How exactly these identities are projected in such an organization’s external communication has hardly been investigated. Here, we present a method that provides a systematic way to analyse the projected identity of multiple-identity organizations. A quantitative content analysis of the annual reports of a Dutch multiple-identity organization shows the presence of its utilitarian and ideological identity through the years 1998–2016. Results suggest that the relatively strong emphasis on the ideological identity of the organization is not in line with the identity perceived internally. Contextual knowledge about changes in the leadership, stakeholders’ demands, and the annual turnover provides a more thorough understanding of the research results. This study shows the volatility of identity, and it supports the presupposition that multiple-identity organizations are flexible in adapting their identity to changing circumstances.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)129-141
Number of pages13
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Content analysis
  • Identity change
  • Multiple identity
  • Projected identity


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