Identity metamorphoses in digital disruption: a relational theory of identity

anastasia utesheva, Jason SIMPSON, Dubravka Cecez-Kecmanovic

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

58 Citations (Scopus)
26 Downloads (Pure)


Digital technologies have disrupted a variety of organizations; however, Information Systems research has yet to explore in-depth why this may be occurring or the implications of this process for those involved. In this paper we present an exemplary case of digital technology disruption in a newspaper company - an organization in the midst of an identity crisis. On the basis of ethnographic data, we explore the changes that resulted from the introduction of the digital medium, and how this has led to the evolution of the newspaper, as well as the metamorphosis of identities of the company, the company's practitioners, and the consumers of the company's content. Our findings suggest that shifts in the evolutionary trajectory of an organization can be traced to the rate and nature of identity metamorphoses among its key actors. Hence, in order to navigate and adapt to digital disruptions, we argue that an ongoing strategic renegotiation of the identities of all the actors involved is not only possible, but is required for an organization's survival. In doing so, we provide a relational theory of identity.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)344-363
Number of pages20
JournalEuropean Journal of Information Systems
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2016


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