The Role of Organizational Identification in Post-death Organizing
Whereas some organizations effectively vanish when they die, others have robust legacies grounded in ongoing, post-death organizing that preserves valued organizational elements after an organization dies. Through post-death organizing, former members perpetuate an organization's legacy, or a shared understanding of its historical contributions. Post-death organizing may be best understood as an expression of the endurance of former members' identification with a defunct organization. This dissertation develops and tests a model of the role of organizational identification endurance in members' propensity to participate in post-death organizing and the consequent effects on organizational identity. The model identified the cognitive, evaluative, and affective processes underlying organizational identification and its individual and situational antecedents. Data for this study were drawn from a survey of 2,192 former employees of Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) in 28 countries around the world. The analysis of these data was conducted using confirmatory factor analysis and structural equation modeling procedures. The resulting model demonstrated strong fit with the data according to several goodness-of-fit indices. The model provides support for a positive relationship between organizational identification endurance and four antecedent factors, including need for organizational identification, positive affectivity, length of service, and perceived relational organizational identity orientation. As expected, organizational identification endurance was positively related to participation in post-death organizing and perceived strength of a defunct organization's identity. Participation in post-death organizing was also positively related with perceived organizational identity strength. Contrary to expectations, the extent to which individuals' employment coincided with years of growth was negatively related to the endurance of organizational identification. Further investigation of this relationship through post-hoc analyses provided inconclusive support for a relationship in either direction between these variables. This research on post-death organizing elaborates scholarly and managerial understanding about former organizational members' motives for participating in post-death organizing. Rather than simply moving to new organizational settings, individuals who are strongly identified with their defunct organizations will be drawn towards opportunities to preserve the organizational characteristics on which their identification is based. This research also has important implications for identification research. This research sheds light on the processes that enable the endurance of organizational identification, which may be more long lasting than the organizations from which it is derived. This research elaborates theories of identification by illuminating the intertwined effects of cognition, evaluation and affect on identification and its implications for individuals' behavior during and after experiences of organizational death.