A fiasco of corporate renaming and communications: An empirical evidence
Somboon Kulvisaechana Thammasat Business School
Faculty of Commerce and Accountancy, Thammasat University 2 Prachan Road, Bangkok 10200 Thailand Tel. 662-225-2107 E-mail: email@example.com
A fiasco of corporate renaming and communications: An empirical evidence ABSTRACT
This paper examines the dynamic interplay between image and identity being communicated in a major UK distribution company, and focuses on the implications of managerial sensemaking of a radical corporate rebranding. The way in which managers interpret and react to cues in the environment lays out a pattern of sensemaking that involves a dramatic identity renewal. This change in identity reflects a failure in bringing a corporate rebranding and a value shift to a market-driven firm status. Not only does it end up with a recapitulation of its organizational identity trap but also a return to the original corporate name. Keywords: Corporate renaming, corporate rebranding, communications
INTRODUCTION The notions of organizational identity and image have become the focus of increasing organizational attention, because “both can lend insight onto the character and behavior of organizations and their members” (Gioia et al. 2000, 63). At the heart of the idea of organizational identity is the view, defined by Albert and Whetten (1985), that identity is central, enduring and distinctive about an organization’s character. In this paper, we explore the possibility of identity as a dynamic, unstable notion, and how organizational members interpret and revise the constructs of identity regarding the major changes in organizational image. In line with Gioia’s assertion that “instability of identity arises mainly from its ongoing inter-relationships with organizational image, which are clearly characterized by a notable degree of fluidity” (2000, 64), we trace the changes in the reciprocal relationship between identity and image in a major organization over time, and how this impacts on the members’ ways of thinking about the organization and its change schemas. Organizations change in response to a variety of drivers that threaten the current practices and legitimacy of the organization. Managing change involves the need to consider the effects of the change on the interpretive schemas both of organizational members and of important external constituencies, such as shareholders and customers. As Gioia and Thomas argue: “under conditions of strategic change, it is not existing identity or image but, rather, envisioned identity or image - those to be achieved - that imply the standards for interpreting important issues” (1996, 370). Our objective is to explore the effects of a change in image and identity on the interpretive schemes of organizational members. If change is to occur, what can remain enduring about identity? If a new vision and strategy are to be introduced, these will likely be at odds with existing identity schemes held by the organizational members. Our concerns with these issues are focused around a case study that highlights the question: “how do organizational members make sense of a large-scale change of organizational image?” The case examines a large distribution company in the UK (henceforth known as ‘Avonia’ - a pseudonym), and its attempts to rename itself as part of a major restructuring exercise aimed at fostering a new image and identity for the organization. The activity of corporate renaming, aligned with an attempt to change its identity is substantially on the rise where organizational restructuring, including mergers and acquisitions and spin-offs, claims to play a part in a rule of the business survival. Examples include Accenture (formerly Andersen Consulting), Diageo (merged Guinness and Grand Metropolitan), and Centrica (a former arm of British Gas). This paper begins with an overview of identity and image in association with corporate naming,...
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