UCL School of Management is delighted to welcome Michael Pratt, Boston College, to host a research seminar discussing ‘Using interorganizational identity work to manage protracted conflicts in a hospital merger’
Complex and long-standing conflicts can have large, lasting and deleterious effects on organizational functioning. A qualitative case study of two legally joined hospitals bound up in a protracted conflict reveals new insights on moving conflicting parties towards experienced conflict tractability. Central to this movement were two cycles of inter-organizational identity work that spanned both time across and hierarchical levels within the two organizations. The first cycle created a new relational frame, and the second reinforced this frame. Common to both cycles were the presence of three types of identity work: identity voicing, identity auditing, and identity augmenting. The net result of this inter-organizational identity work was that the hospitals were able to work together more productively after nearly16 years of dysfunctional conflict. Conflict remained, but it had become more tractable. We develop a model that theorizes these dynamics, and suggest implications for research and practice.