Where is the "me" among the "we"? Identity work and the search for optimal balance

Glen E. Kreiner, Elaine C. Hollensbe, Mathew L. Sheep

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

542 Scopus citations


Through two qualitative studies, we examine how members of a particularly demanding occupation conduct identity work to negotiate an optimal balance between personal and social identities. Findings are based on open-ended survey responses from and in-depth interviews with Episcopal priests. We first explore the situational and vocational demands placed on those in challenging occupations, along with the identity tensions that often result from those demands. We then specify and classify several identity work tactics that ameliorate these demands and tensions by differentiating or integrating personal and social identities. To synthesize findings, we develop a theoretical model of identity work.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1031-1057
Number of pages27
JournalAcademy of Management Journal
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2006

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Business and International Management
  • General Business, Management and Accounting
  • Strategy and Management
  • Management of Technology and Innovation


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