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Running Head: IDENTITY RECONCILIATION THE RECONCILIATION OF PERSONAL – CORPORATE IDENTITY CONFLICTS BY EVANGELICAL CHRISTIAN WORKERS A Thesis Presented to the Faculty in Communication and Leadership Studies School of Professional Studies Gonzaga University Under the Supervision of Dr. Heather Crandall Under the Mentorship of Dr. Kristine Hoover In Partial Fulfillment Of the Requirements for the Degree Master of Arts in Communication and Leadership Studies By Michael Anderson April 2012

THE RECONCILIATION OF PERSONAL – CORPORATE IDENTITY ...web02.gonzaga.edu/comltheses/proquestftp/Anderson_gonzaga_0736M... · running head: identity reconciliation the reconciliation

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    A Thesis

    Presented to the Faculty in Communication and Leadership Studies

    School of Professional Studies

    Gonzaga University

    Under the Supervision of Dr. Heather Crandall

    Under the Mentorship of Dr. Kristine Hoover

    In Partial Fulfillment

    Of the Requirements for the Degree

    Master of Arts in Communication and Leadership Studies


    Michael Anderson

    April 2012


    Signature Page



    It is with heartfelt and humble gratitude that I offer these acknowledgements.

    To my wife, Lisa, I love you so much. Thank you for your patience, encouragement, and

    sacrifice without which this program and thesis would not have been possible.

    You are amazing and I am blessed by you.

    Dr. Hoover, thank you for your mentorship and generosity. Thank you for investing so

    much time and energy in me personally and academically.

    To Nobuya Inagaki, my academic advisor, thank you for your insightful guidance and


    Thank you to all my classmates and professors, notably Dr. Mike Hazel, and Mike

    Poutiatine. You have all made this journey a real joy.

    Lastly, I owe a great debt of gratitude to Dr. Heather Crandall, who took the time to

    entertain a phone call from an insecure neophyte and then walk with him through

    this program. I cannot thank you enough for your friendship, guidance, and


    You have all made this program a life changing experience.



    Communication can be viewed as a negotiation of identity. In that negotiation it is

    inevitable that conflicts in identity will occur (Lederach, as cited in Stewart, 2006). When

    that conflict is between ones personal identity and the corporate identity an organization

    asks, or even requires of that person, what processes are used to reconcile those

    differences? This question becomes even more salient in an organization utilizing a

    cultural style of organizational structure (Conrad & Poole, 2005). Cultural organizational

    structures are rooted in a belief that people, as emotional beings, need to feel connected

    to their work community. Understanding identity reconciliation techniques (Hecht &

    Jung, 2004, Tracy & Trethewey, 2003) and challenges such as these can help leaders in

    cultural organizations to lead more effectively and treat their employees in a manner

    consistent with cultural organizational ideology. Employees and members of

    organizations may be more productive and find greater satisfaction when personal and

    work identities are closely aligned. Based on previous research on identity formation,

    cultural organizations, and ethics (Christians, 2008), this ethnographic study of an

    evangelical vocational ministry seeks to bring clarity to the processes and ethical

    implications of identity in a strong cultural organization.





    Signature Page......iii

    Table of Contents..iv

    Chapter I: Introduction.....1

    Importance of the Study...1

    Statement of the Problem.....1

    Definition of Terms..2

    Organization of Remaining Chapters...2

    Chapter II: Review of the Literature.4

    Philosophical, Ethical, and Theoretical Basis..4

    The Literature...5

    Personal identity...5

    Corporate identity.7

    Strong culture organizations.9

    Identity reconciliation...11



    Research Question14

    Chapter III: Scope and Methodology...15

    The Scope of the Study.15

    Methodology of the Study....16

    Chapter IV: The Study..21


    Data Analysis...21


    Ethnography of CFC....21

    Physical Environment...21

    Electronic Communication......26

    The employees/Office life28

    Personal Artifacts in the workplace.....35

    In-Depth Interviews..36

    Personal and corporate identity frames........37

    Identity Conflict or personal growth?..............................................39

    Emotional response to identity conflict....41

    Job satisfaction and identity conflicts......41

    Identity reconciliation......42

    Identity affirmation I then workplace...42

    CFC as a strong culture organization.......44

    Discussion: Implications for communication and leadership...48

    Foster a dialogue rich culture....48

    Introduce identity development opportunities......48

    Involve employees in corporate values....49

    Chapter V: Summaries and Conclusions..51

    Limitations of the Study51

    Further Study....52



    Appendix A...61

    Appendix B...63

    Appendix C...64


    Chapter I: Introduction

    The Problem

    Importance of the Study. Personal identity is shaped in the context of

    community. Similarities and differences between individuals and groups can bring clarity

    to personal identity. Similarly, group identity is also shaped in community. Those in the

    community work together, consciously and unconsciously to create the identity of the

    group and further shape group members personal identities. Over time, it is inevitable

    that those identities will come into conflict. The group will put pressure, real or imagined

    on an individual to change his or her identity.

    This study seeks to bring clarity to the communication methods that are used in

    identity construction and reconciliation by evangelical Christian workers in a strong

    culture organization. It is possible that communication practices in faith-based

    organizations differ significantly from those in non faith-based organizations. Those

    differences may help to further illuminate the ways people in different co-cultures

    communicate identity. A better understanding of communication practices that inform

    identity construction and reconciliation could be helpful to people struggling with

    identity issues or groups that seek to understand how to work more effectively as a

    strong culture. The rest of this chapter includes a statement of the problem, definition

    of terms, and the content organization of the following chapters.

    Statement of the Problem. Organizations that operate in highly competitive and

    volatile markets can respond more quickly to market changes and customer wishes when

    they adopt a cultural approach to organization. One distinction of a culture organization

    structure is that leaders who wish to build a strong culture organization seek to treat

    people ethically, which often means as independent agents with feelings (Conrad &

    Poole, 2005). Yet, the culture of organizations and corporations are co-constructed by all

    the members of the organization, not just the leaders (Scott, 2007). Given that conflicts in

    identity are inevitable it is imperative that personal and corporate identities be ethically

    brought into alignment. Research into the effects of identity conflict on employees may

    reveal to what extent the organization is aligned to ethical treatment and a strong

    culture. The methods employees use to reconcile identity conflicts can also illuminate the

    ethical nature of the organization. Employees who feel compelled to fake their identity,


    or that their identity must be subjugated may be enduring unethical treatment. Similarly,

    whether or not leaders and employees share the same opportunities for self-actualization

    may be an indication of unethical behavior. Research into the leadership and

    communication practices of strong culture organizations may reveal practices that are

    more ethical and constructive to building strong cultures and which practices are not.

    Definition of Terms

    Corporate identity The identity one perceives he or she need to take on or present in the

    work setting.

    Evangelical Christian organization part of a specific subset of FBOs characterized by

    commitment to Christian evangelism as an organization and by the members


    Essential - something (as a presumed human trait) as having innate existence or universal

    validity rather than as being a social, ideological, or intellectual construct.

    Faith Based Organization (FBO) an organization that is characterized by religious faith

    as foundational to its existence and mission.

    Personal Identity ones self-concept and presentation of that self-concept.

    Strong cultural organization an organization based on the idea that people are

    emotional beings who need to feel connected to the organization and treated


    Reconcile make congruent, come to accept, resolve.

    Organization of Remaining Chapters

    Chapter two of this thesis contains a review of literature related to communication

    research on the formation and reconciliation of personal identity and corporate identity.

    Research about strong cultures and the ethics of communication is also included in this

    literature review. Chapter three explains the scope, methodology, and ethical concerns of

    this study. Chapter four is a summary of a two-month ethnographic study of an

    evangelical mission organization with a strong culture, Communication for Change

    (pseudonym, CFC). Following the introduction to chapter four are sections describing the

    physical environment, electronic communication and official documents, the

    employees/office life, and personal artifacts in the workplace. Those are followed by a

    presentation on data gathered from in-depth interviews conducted with employees and a


    discussion about possible implications drawn from the data. Chapter five contains the

    summary and conclusions from the study. Chapter five is divided into three sections:

    limitations, recommendations for further study, and a final conclusion.


    Chapter II: Literature Review

    Philosophical, Ethical, and Theoretical Basis

    Communication, verbal or non-verbal, dyadic or mass, plays a crucial role in the

    creation of personal identity and community (Christians, 2008; Goldzwig & Sullivan,

    2004; Scott, 2007; Silva & Sias, 2010, Stewart, Zediker & Witteborn, 2006). If indeed the

    strong cultural organization is based on the idea that people are emotional beings who

    need to feel connected to the organization (Conrad & Poole, 2005) it would seem that

    matters of personal-corporate identity negotiation and conflict be handled in a way that

    treats the individual as an independent, emotional agent who is a co-creator of the culture.

    Since it is the ability to communicate that allows for the creation of culture (Hecht &

    Jung, 2003; Orbe, 2004) the way people communicate and the vocabulary they possess

    and are able to use with one another is also a consideration (Ramage, 2006).

    With that in mind it is worth noting that communication does not take place with

    a reified culture or organization, at its essence organizational communication happens

    between people (Christians, 2008). It is here that Buber (1970) speaks to the tension

    experienced in identity communication. To be treated as, or treat others as an it is to

    reject the humanity that is common to us all. When any member of an organization

    attempts to legitimize his identity yet deny another her identity an ethical line is crossed.

    Likewise, when power and privilege are reasons for license or to exert control over

    others, an ethical line is crossed (Freire, 1970; Kornberger & Brown, 2007). For those in

    leadership in a strong cultural organization it follows that the power of position, myth,

    and symbols, be wielded in a manner consistent with the philosophical underpinnings of a

    strong cultural organization and the recognition that all communication is bound by


    ethical concerns (Christians, 2008).

    The Literature

    Personal identity. Personal identity refers to ones self-concept comprised in part

    by ones values and emotions (Griffin, 2009, p. 114) and also by ones relationship to

    various communities with whom one identifies yet still remains distinct and separate

    (Brown, 2007, p.5). Hecht and Jung (2004) have created the communication theory of

    identity (CTI) to illustrate the symbiotic relationship between personal identity and social

    roles. CTI is a theory based on social relationships found in four frames. The four frames

    are personal identity, enacted identity, relational identity and communal identity (Hecht,

    1993 as cited in Hecht & Jung, 2004, p. 266). These frames do not stand-alone, rather

    they are interconnected in that they inform and shape one another. Personal identity refers

    to a persons self concept and the way one sees oneself. A persons enacted identity is

    identity that is specifically communicated through words and actions to others. Relational

    identity is that part of ones identity that is formed in relationship with others. Relational

    identity can be ascribed by how others view that person in a specific role e.g. brother, or

    an identity reflected in a relationship such as two people defining themselves as partners

    in crime. Lastly, communal identity goes beyond the individual identity to reflect the

    identity of the whole e.g. we are a family first and a company second. Whether or not a

    persons identity is hard-wired, or essential, it is most certainly influenced and shaped

    by community (Brown, 2007; Case, 2010; Drummond & Orbe, 2008; Kirby et al., 2006;

    Moriizumi, 2011; Scott & Stevens, 2009).

    Whereas the focus of CTI is on the relational, phenomenological aspect of

    identity, Tracy and Trethewey (2003) posit an identity formation model that allows


    essentialist and phenomenological identity formation theories to inform the other. By

    proposing a crystallized identity they suggest that people have many identities from

    which to choose to present at the appropriate time. As a crystal reflects light at different

    angles, so too do individuals present, or reflect, different aspects of identity as deemed

    appropriate. Tracy and Tretheweys Crystallized Self can be seen to incorporate

    relational, situational and essential aspects of identity.

    Reid et al. (2009) found support for Tracy and Tretheweys concept in their study

    on gender, language, and social influence. In Reids study women were found to be more

    or less likely to reveal their level of education and expertise based on the situation. If

    revealing their background would hinder their communication, they could downplay that

    part of their identity to gain favor. Tian and Belk (2005) found that people were very

    deliberate in what parts of their identity they displayed at work and what parts they did

    not. Across genders, (Reid et al, 2009), generations (Tian & Belk, 2005) and even across

    cultures (Chang, 2011), it is apparent that people make deliberate choices about what

    aspects of their identity they will reflect or reveal.

    Tracy and Trethewey (2003, p.4) go on to point out that despite the obvious

    influence of culture, others, and organizations on personal identity, people still refer to

    their personal identity as authentic. Whether or not it is authentic in an essentialist

    meaning is immaterial. What matters is that to these individuals it is real. When this

    real self comes into a situation that requires something other, it is not uncommon to

    hear people proclaim that they were being fake (Tracy and Trethewey, 2003). One of

    the places this fake self is revealed is the corporate workplace. When that workplace is

    of a strong cultural structure the identity clash between real self and fake self can


    be acute.

    Corporate identity. It is well documented that the culture of a group, club,

    family, organization, or corporation is not a product of an inanimate organization but the

    co-created reality of the individuals in the organization (Brown, 2007; Conrad &Poole,

    2005; Geertz, 1973; Kirby et al. 2006; Pacanowsky, 1982; Silva & Sias, 2010). Just as the

    individuals create the culture, the culture influences those same people. In this fascinating

    dance of identity, individuals in community create an organizations identity or culture.

    This culture in turn influences, and arguably may change, the very personal identities of

    those who created the culture (McNamee, 2011; Pacanowsky, 1982; Tracy & Trethewey,


    Brown states that ones corporate identity is a self-focused way of understanding

    ones role and place in the organization (2007, p.5). Corporate identity is shaped by the

    rules of the corporate culture and the dialogue in the work place (Brown, 2007;

    Coupland, Brown, Daniels & Humphreys, 2008; Kirby et al. Identity, 2006; Scott &

    Stephens, 2009). Brown goes on to point out nine basic assumptions of corporate


    1. All organization has its basis in ongoing human social interaction.

    2. All human social interaction is ongoing communicating, ordering and


    3. Organizing, communicating, and decision-making are all forms of

    sensemaking simultaneously composed of acting and interpreting


    4. Organizations are not things in themselves, but are reifications in a


    process of continuously becoming.

    5. Organizing is evident through narrative claims (symbolic meaning),

    social rules (structurations), agreements in practice and routines

    (rituals of reification and rituals of reproduction).

    6. Organizing, communicating, and decision-making are all forms of

    human influence.

    7. Collective forms of human influence can be observed through narrative

    claims, structuration, agreements, and routines.

    8. Individual members are capable of representing a shared meaning in

    terms of cultural artifacts such as enactments and narrative claims.

    9. Organizing results from expressions of meaningful order of human

    influence in terms of rules, agreements, routines, and narrative claims

    of identity. (2007, p. 7)

    In this milieu of communicated rules, narratives and conversations, individuals

    assent to the norms and rules of the organization (Brown, 2007; Coupland et al., 2008).

    These rules may be tacit or explicit (Coupland et al., 2008; Kirby et al., 2006).

    Regardless, the influence of these rules on individuals is very real (Alvesson &

    Wilmmott, 2002). Organizational rules may apply to conduct, personal affects, morals,

    values, affiliations, spirituality, and even emotions (Alvesson & Wilmmott, 2002;

    Coupland et al., 2008; McGuire, 2009; McNamee, 2011; Tian & Belk, 2005).

    Conrad & Poole (2005) define a strong cultural organization as an

    organizational structure based on the fact that people are emotional beings. As such it is

    important that people feel connected to their community, including their


    organization/workplace. Central to this idea is persuading employees or organizational

    members to accept the organizations core beliefs as their own. The more beliefs, values,

    and meanings are accepted and internalized by group members, the stronger the culture

    (Tian & Belk, 2005, p. 806).

    Strong culture corporations. Strong cultures, form as leaders and members

    use stories and metaphors, myths, rituals, and ceremonies to socialize employees and

    reinforce organizational identity (Conrad & Poole, 2005; Tian & Belk, 2005). One

    purpose of myth narratives is to communicate organizational rules and regulate behavior.

    These rituals also serve to shape an individuals corporate identity. The use of visual

    imagery to reinforce cultural myths can be a powerful tool for socialization as well

    (Barry, 2009; Scott & Stephens, 2009). Gender roles, power structures, and expectations

    for personal behavior are all communicated and reinforced through this socialization vis-

    a-vi the communication of corporate culture.

    Invariably, tension and conflict between a persons personal identity and

    corporate identity will become a reality. (Coupland et al., 2008; Tracy & Trethewey,

    2003). Conrad & Poole (2005, p. 163) refer to this as the fundamental paradox and

    point out that employees may feel manipulated by messages that encourage stronger

    identification with the organization. Some employees who sense tension between their

    personal identity and organizational identity will make overt statements to separate

    themselves from the organization (Chang, 2011). Still others express feelings of

    stigmatization, frustration and confusion as to how they should participate in the

    organization (Case, 2010; Drummond & Orbe, 2008; Meissenbach, 2010: Kirby et al.,

    2006; Tian & Belk, 2005). Other negative outcomes from this dissonance include


    depression, lower job satisfaction and productivity, and higher turnover (McNamee,

    2011; Scott & Stephens, 2009). McGuire (2010) and Mikkelson and Hesse (2009) note

    that in organizations such as Faith Based Organizations (FBOs), churches, and religious

    schools where spirituality is a salient aspect of both personal and corporate identity, other

    negative outcomes include acute fear of risk and feelings of guilt and hypocrisy.

    Identity reconciliation. When personal identity and corporate identity come into

    conflict, people seek congruence in their identities (Scholz, 2008). At the most basic level

    this conflict can be characterized as between ones real self and ones fake self

    (Tracy & Trethewey, 2003). This conflict is more easily managed by people who have a

    strong sense of self that is rooted in their inner values and beliefs than those who find

    more salience in how they are perceived and thought of by others (Conrad & Poole, 2005,

    p. 159).

    In her study of homosexual Mormons, Scholz (2008, p. 2) found people chose one

    of three coping choices. Some would subordinate either their identity as homosexual or

    Mormon. Others chose to separate the two conflicting identities so as to manifest them in

    a context deemed appropriate. Still others chose to integrate and embrace the two


    Similar patterns of identity reconciliation can be found in other studies. Coupland

    et al. (2008) found that employees would consciously attempt to manage their emotional

    talk, feelings and displays. Managers frequently acknowledged downgrading or denying

    their emotions because it would be inappropriate for a manager to be emotional.

    Distancing allows a person to express emotion on behalf of the organization or other co-

    cultures in the organization. Still others found that to play at being emotional allowed


    for a dramatic display, which then could be passed off as being emotional for dramatic


    When teachers at a Jesuit college encountered personal-organizational identity

    conflicts, they too found three paths of reconciliation. Based on the situation, the

    professors could embrace or resist the difference, include or exclude others from the

    process, and lastly make a proclamation or remain silent (Kirby et al., 2006). Whatever

    the choice, two elements are constant: dialogue and context. Ultimately, a dialogue

    with the values and norms of the school would reveal salience and a course of action to

    the person experiencing the conflict.

    Studies that address stigmatization and stigma negotiation find similar patterns.

    Meisenbach (2010) notes that many who feel stigmatized by society must choose to

    acknowledge to themselves and others the existence of the stigma or to deny its

    existence. In Henson and Olsons (2010) study of serial killers, the researchers applied

    the communication theory of identity to stigma management. Recall that dialogue is

    central to CTI Henson and Olson found serial killers would effectively have an internal

    dialogue between their personal identity and their relational, stigmatized identities. The

    result of this dialogue was often denial or justification.

    There is also a status element at play when discussing personal-corporate identity

    conflict. Coupland et al. (2008) note that managers saw themselves as overcomers and

    agents of change. Conversely, the teachers working for the managers saw themselves as

    victims of flawed strategies (p. 347). Tracy and Trethewey (2003, p.16) have found that

    while those in upper level positions face identity conflict they are encouraged to construct

    a preferred self that is aligned with their real self. This stands in stark contrast to lower-


    status workers who must perform according to the corporate culture. If their identity is in

    conflict with the corporate identity a fake self is often presented and they are

    encouraged to find their real self outside of work.

    Common to all of these studies is the importance that dialogue plays in the

    presentation, negotiation and reconciliation of identity (Hecht & Jung, 2003; Orbe, 2004).

    Whether in dialogue with oneself, others, or a reified organization, individuals negotiate

    their identity. Additionally, context is a salient component of identity negotiation and

    presentation (Hecht & Jung, 2003; Tracy & Trethewey, 2003). The context of the conflict

    will be a major determinant of whether or not an identity will be avowed or rejected.

    When applied to an organization that is strong culturally matters of identity can

    become very challenging. The emphasis that a strong cultural organization places on

    values and beliefs that are then communicated through story narratives, rituals, imagery,

    and myths, touch people at the very core of their personal identity (Alvesson &

    Wilmmott, 2002; Griffin, 2009; Hecht & Jung, 2003). In such an organization the conflict

    can be experienced acutely, even resulting in depression and feelings of stigmatization

    (Case, 2010; Hecht & Jung, 2003; Henson & Olson 2010). Tracy and Tretheweys (2003)

    proposed crystallized self offers a contextualized and flexible view of identity that may

    be a strong complement to the communication theory of identity.


    Whether or not people have an essential self or a co-created self, the influence of

    culture on the presentation of self is well documented. (Alvesson & Wilmmott, 2002;

    Brown, 2007; Hecht & Jung, 2003; Kirby et al., 2006; Orbe, 2004; Scott, 2007). The

    communication theory of identity offers a useful framework for understanding the


    dialogic formation and interplay of personal identity and organizational identity (Hecht &

    Jung, 2003; Orbe, 2004). When ones personal identity is in conflict with the identity and

    values of ones organization the incongruence can be so acute that feelings of guilt,

    depression, and stigmatization can result (Case, 2010; Hecht & Jung, 2003; Henson &

    Olson 2010; McNamee, 2011).

    Studies have revealed many methods for reconciling identity conflicts (Coupland,

    2008; Henson and Olson, 2010; Meisenbach, 2010; Silva & Sias, 2010; Tracy &

    Trethewey, 2003). While coping choices vary, two common themes are found. First,

    reconciliation is a dialogic process (Hecht & Jung, 2003; McNamee, 2011; Orbe, 2004,

    Silva & Sias, 2010). Second, the action taken is contextualized to the perceived salience

    of the situation (Hecht & Jung, 2003; Tracy & Trethewey, 2003). As a method for

    reconciliation and a means to understand differences in personal and organizational

    identity, Tracy and Tretheweys (2003) concept of the crystallized self presents a

    compelling addendum to the communication theory of identity by proposing situational

    appropriate self-presentations.

    Given that strong cultural organizations are created by and composed of people,

    with the end in mind that people are to be treated humanely, there are also ethical

    considerations. Arguably, those considerations exist in all organizations and

    communication (Christians, 2008; Griffin, 2009; Kornberger & Brown, 2007). As such,

    the nature of interpersonal and corporate communication may benefit from the I-thou

    ideal of Buber.

    While the literature offers clear descriptions of personal and corporate identity

    formation and negotiation, there is little research specifically targeting identity


    reconciliation in a strong cultural organization. The following ethnographic research

    applies existing identity theory to identity reconciliation in a strong cultural

    organization. This study seeks to further illuminate the identity reconciliation process and

    provide useful information for leaders seeking to treat employees humanely and ethically.


    The purpose of this ethnographic study of a strong cultural organization is to

    better understand the communication processes of identity negotiation when employees

    sense conflict between their identity and the organizational identity they are being asked

    or compelled to assume. Ethnographic research allows participants the opportunity to

    express in their own words their self-concept, their organizational identities, any sense of

    conflict among those identities, and ways those conflicts are reconciled. A detailed

    analysis of respondent answers will provide valuable insight into the application of CTI

    and the crystallized self model in a strong cultural organization. It is possible that the

    contextualized identity theorized in the CTI and crystallized self model may offer a

    new strategy for identity reconciliation, here-to-for unknown or unnamed by employees.

    In an effort to further illuminate the communication processes of identity reconciliation

    and to address the call for further research in faith based organizations (McNamee, 2011)

    the following research question is submitted:

    RQ: How do evangelical Christian workers in a strong cultural organization

    reconcile differences between personal and organizational identity?


    Chapter III: Scope and Methodology


    Communication for Change (pseudonym, CFC hereafter) is a Faith-based

    organization (FBO) as evidenced by the Statement of Faith that all employees must

    sign as a prerequisite to employment and its function as a Christian evangelistic outreach

    ministry. Like many FBOs that rely on employee commitment to strong values and

    mission, CFC is also an organization with a strong culture. Leaders and employees in

    CFC frequently refer to CFC as a family. The CFC leaders intentionally seek to create

    and maintain a strong culture to which stated values and company documents attest.

    Additionally, CFC is in the midst of a significant change in methodology. Historically,

    CFC has primarily used music as an evangelistic method. In recent years Social

    Networking tools and methods have been embraced and are now a major emphasis in

    CFC This change has resulted in many musicians no longer performing. Rather they are

    working in the area of social media and even designing and coding mobile and web apps.

    CFC is seeing great success in this change but some employees are struggling more than

    others with the changes. As a research subject CFC offers an opportunity to fill the gap in

    research on identity reconciliation in Faith Based and strong cultural organizations.

    Participants in this study are full time employees of CFC, a mid-sized

    organization with less than 100 employees. Participants will have various tenures ranging

    from internships of a few months to over 25 years working for CFC Most of the

    employees are Caucasian. They come from diverse economic, religious and demographic

    backgrounds. Most of the employees are musicians who were drawn to the musical work

    done at CFC, however most of the employees do not have degrees in music. Their


    educational backgrounds range from liberal arts to engineering and computer science.

    While participation is voluntary, it was hoped that a minimum of 30 of the 92

    employees would participate in the interviews. Included in the sample are mothers who

    are fulltime employees but do not work full time at the CFC office facility. Access to the

    organization was obtained through the organizations gatekeepers (Neuman, 2005) on the

    leadership team and in cooperation with the Human Resources Director (Appendix C).

    With access secured, the study was announced at an all-staff meeting and published in

    official company communiqus. Participants were advised that all interviews were

    confidential. Additionally, participation was strictly voluntary and the interview process

    could have been concluded or nullified at any time by the interviewee. Results of the

    study were made available to the leadership of CFC and the employees upon request.

    Access to official company documents, the CFC intranet, staff meetings, on site

    observation and personal interviews was granted for purposes of this study. These factors

    provide the opportunity to develop a rich ethnography of CFC. As an FBO navigating a

    significant change in methodology this study may provide insight into identity

    reconciliation and effective leadership communication strategies that ethically promote a

    strong culture organization.


    Design. In an effort to fill the gap in research on identity reconciliation in a

    strong culture organization a qualitative ethnographic research approach was

    implemented. The goal of ethnography is to provide a rich understanding of a culture

    from the perspective of those in the culture (Erikkson & Kovalainen, 2008). Given the

    intimate nature and nuance of personal identity and strong cultural climate of CFC, an


    ethnographic research method that is culture focused and allows for participant dialog

    was useful. A multi-method approach to gathering data was used to construct a rich

    ethnography of CFC. This multi-method approach included interviews, observation, and

    analysis of site documents. By allowing respondents the opportunity to answer questions

    and offer explanations about personal and organizational identity, insight and clarity was

    brought to existing identity and communication models.

    Sampling. Initial participants were chosen using convenience sampling by

    identifying those CFC employees who were willing to be interviewed. Snowball

    sampling followed this by asking those in the convenience-sampling group for referrals

    as part of the interview process (Participant Observation, 2011).

    Instrumentation and procedures. As the researcher was an employee and leader

    at CFC the possibility existed that CFC employees would feel unfairly observed or that

    the information gathered could be used against them. To protect the integrity of the study

    and out of respect for the privacy of CFC employees it was ethical to assume a

    participant-as-observer role for this ethnography (McCurdy & Spradley, 1988). There

    were also opportunities to assume an observer-as-participant role at organization and

    team meetings. Informal gatherings and on-site observation were other observer-as-

    participant or participant-as-observer opportunities.

    In order to develop a representation of corporate identity at CFC, descriptive data,

    such as mission, vision, and values statements was gathered from site documents of

    formal organizational communication in physical and electronic documents (Erikkson &

    Kovalainen, 2008). Content on the CFC website, Facebook page, YouTube Channel,

    blog, and Twitter accounts will be analyzed for thematic elements and terms. CFC also


    maintains a corporate intranet that to facilitate communication between leaders and

    employees, and employee to employee. The content of this site is accessible only by CFC

    employees and was also included in the collection of data.

    Barry (2009), as well as Scott and Stephenson (2009) have observed many non-

    verbal expressions of identity. Observation of verbal and non-verbal communication at

    corporate meetings, team meetings, and informal gatherings was documented. Field notes

    of employee behavior, dress, personal artifacts, as well as CFC dcor were also made.

    This made it possible to observe verbal and non-verbal expressions of identity and

    identity reconciliation.

    Formal and informal interview data that pertains to personal identity, corporate

    identity and conflicts between those identities was also gathered. All interviewees were

    asked to sign an informed consent document (see Appendix B). The interviews were

    conducted from an interpretive perspective so as to more fully understand the perspective

    of the participant. Interviews were both ethnographic and in-depth (Qualitative

    Interviewing, 2011; Neuman, 2005). Ethnographic interviews allowed for spontaneous

    dialogue about identity in a natural setting. Formal in-depth interviews were also

    conducted to gather more focused data.

    The in-depth interviews were semi-structured (see Appendix A) and strictly

    volunteer based. These interviews proceeded at a pace and duration established by the

    participant (Qualitative Interviewing, 2011). The interview was recorded when consent

    was given and notes were taken during the interview. Consistent with an interpretive

    approach, the interviews had a dialogic feel. As it was unknown how aware participants

    were of their personal identity versus their corporate identity it was at times helpful to


    interpret their comments in light of communication and identity theories (Neuman, 2005).

    Through a process of probing with floating prompts, reinterpretation, and dialogue some

    participants found concepts such as crystallized self helpful to their reconciliation

    process (Qualitative Interviewing, 2011).

    Upon completion of data collection, the data was triangulated and coded using a

    three step coding process of open coding, axial coding and selective coding (Erikkson &

    Kovalainen, 2008; Neuman, 2005). By analyzing data from different perspectives and

    different sources it was possible to achieve a richer understanding of the culture and

    enhance credibility (Participant Observation, 2011). Common themes, phrases, words,

    and concepts were compared with existing research noted in the literature review.

    Ethical considerations. This study was conducted in a manner consistent with

    U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office for the Protection from Research

    Risks. To ensure the ethical protection of anonymity no names were recorded (Neuman,

    2005). In place of names, a coded spreadsheet of random letters and numbers was used to

    identify employees of CFC This allowed for observational, interview, and conversation

    data to be coordinated for the duration of the study. At the conclusion of the study the

    spreadsheet will be destroyed. In accordance with ethical research standards all data was

    stored with pseudonyms, and it was also stored privately in order to ensure confidentiality

    (Eriksson & Kovalainen, 2008; Neuman, 2005). For participants who consented to be

    recorded during the interview, the recording were stored privately and then destroyed

    upon completion of the interview transcript.

    Full disclosure of the researchers position as a leader in the organization being

    studied was made at the beginning of the study. Along with the announcements about the


    study this further guarded against deception. Additionally, as the researcher was an

    organizational leader power issues could have come into play. Full disclosure, the

    volunteer nature of the study and the fact that this study was not commissioned by

    organizational leaders for the organization but was sanctioned for academic purposes,

    helped protect against unethical power use. Lastly, in an effort to avoid unethical

    behavior or ethnocentrism, the researcher kept a reflexive journal reflexive journal

    (McCurdy & Spradley, 1988; Participant Observation, 2011). The results of this study

    are presented in the following chapter.


    Chapter IV: The Study


    This study is an ethnographic study of the CFC work environment, official CFC

    documents, and communication from CFC executive leaders. Following that,

    observations from personal items on display at workspaces and other on-site observations

    including informal communication, formal communication such as team meetings, and

    other personal effects are noted. Lastly, results and observations from in-depth interviews

    with CFC staff are presented.

    Data Analysis

    Ethnography of CFC. Physical environment. In the heartland of the Midwest,

    adjacent to a four-lane divided state highway, fallow farmland, and the town high school

    there is a one-story building. From above it looks like a giant H on the ground. CFC is

    headquartered in 1,858 square meters of office space on the south side of the building. A

    for-profit business uses the north half of the building. The company name and logo on the

    buildings faade are visible from the state highway a hundred meters away. A small

    pond in front of the CFC offices often plays host to a muskrat or Great Blue Heron. The

    CFC entrance for visitors, employees, and deliveries is in the back of the building. The

    driveway to the back is large enough for a semi, marked with potholes, frequented by

    migrating Canada geese, and adjacent to the fallow field. At the back of the building a

    faded, weather worn, brown awning covers the short stairway to the CFC main entrance.

    An 8.5 x 11 (21.59 cm x 27.94 cm) sheet of paper taped to the inside of the

    glass back door informs all that, Until further notice CFC doors are locked. Please ring

    the bell for service. This door leads into a small 2.5.m x 2.5m room with two unlocked


    glass doors that lead into the CFC office space. Surrounded by windows and filled with

    office cubicles, this massive room measures approximately 1,208 meters squared. A long

    vaulted atrium over a walkway that is 6m wide leads from the front door to the opposite

    wall of windows some 46m away.

    To the right the human resources department occupies 16 beige cubicles. The

    door to the human resources directors office is in the Northeast corner of this section. On

    the wall adjacent to the Human Resources department are two bulletin boards. One has

    the names and skills of recruits. The other board has the pictures and names of new

    employees who are raising their funds in order to report to work. CFC has no central

    funding. Subsequently, all employees at CFC must find churches and individuals who

    will send money to CFC in order for the employee to receive pay. Note cards are hanging

    on the wall and employees are encouraged to stop by to pray for these people and write

    them a note of encouragement.

    To the left of the main entrance a small reception area and reception desk await

    visitors. Whether or not a receptionist greets visitors depends on the day. Some days there

    is no receptionist, other days a volunteer serves as receptionist, and on still other days a

    CFC employee, a parent, usually a mother, whose children are now in high school or at

    college serves as the receptionist. On days when there is no receptionist the Operations

    Director or a random CFC employee who happens to be near the door will greet visitors

    and let them in through the locked doors.

    The reception area has a couple of mauve chairs. There is a stack of magazines

    published by the parent company of CFC that rests on the small end table by the chairs. A

    2.5 meter high cubicle divider forms a wall on which hang a collection of 0.3m x 0.5m


    framed promotional photographs of performers who work for CFC and another ministry

    that shares this office space. On the other side of this cubicle wall sits the Operations

    Director, surrounded by cubicles for the operations and IT teams.

    Cubicle walls that stand 5 feet tall and have worktables that face the center

    walkway line the center aisle. These walls are broken up every 9 meters by gaps that

    allow entrance to various team workspaces. The tables in the aisle contain framed records

    and pictures of bands from the 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, to the present. These bands represent

    the legacy of CFC and are credited by some in the contemporary Christian music industry

    as the genesis of contemporary Christian music.

    Also along the center aisle one will find a jigsaw puzzle that is in process.

    Occasionally, a CFC employee stops by to place a couple pieces. Further on there is a

    bistro table. After that an employee has set up a patio outside a cubicle wall as an

    extension of the workspace. There is a stuffed chair and a small coffee table with a book

    on it. The words creativity and innovation have been painted on tin strips that

    measure 0.4m x 2.44m and are held up by frames made of two-by-fours painted black.

    These signs on the right side of the aisle stand out and lead ones eye to the far wall and a

    banner that reads in part, imagine the possibilities.

    Here in the middle of the back of the office, to the right is a large space with a

    Bose PA, white projection screen in the corner, a video projector on a two drawer filing

    cabinet as a stand, and about 100 folding chairs. This is where company meetings are

    held. Along the windowsill of this meeting area are scores of rocks the size of softballs.

    When CFC moved into this office space the event was seen as a great work of God.

    Following the Old Testament tradition of using stones to build an Ebenezer, and as a way


    to express faith for the future CFC employees wrote significant events from the past and

    dreams for the future on the stones. These stones are an important symbol that reinforces

    the theme of faith at CFC

    On the left side of the aisle across from the meeting space resides the free

    table. Here one can find any number of items employees no longer have need of but

    others might find useful: kitchen utensils, books, jewelry, cordless phones, plants,

    sunglasses, CDs, and even cassette tapes. Behind this table is the workspace for

    employees who develop social media apps and resources. Between here and the front

    door one can see the marketing department, cubicles that house musicians and other

    performing artists, filmmakers, a small library area with a couch and loveseat, the

    company printer and workstation, and any number of international relics collected over

    the years and miles of travel. On one 15m length of wall there are bulletin boards that

    host posters for events in the community such as Symphony concerts. One can also find

    on these bulletin boards letters that CFC employees send out to the people who support

    them financially.

    About a third of the way into this main office space there is a hallway to the right.

    The hallway is formed by the cubicle walls of the HR department to the right and

    communication training department to the left. The wall on the right is ten meters long

    and not quite 2 meters high. It is covered with a mosaic made of 28cm x 43cm sheets of

    paper. The mosaic is a banner with a vision statement about millions of people becoming

    followers of Christ as a result of the work of CFC The wall on the left is covered with

    banners that together form a map of the world. The banners are covered with pictures of

    CFC employees and people with whom CFC has worked over the years. There are


    symbols that represent the ministry activity of CFC in countries on every inhabited

    continent. This cubicle corridor leads through two massive wooden doors to a corridor

    that is shared with the other tenant to the North of CFC offices. The bathrooms are

    located on this corridor as is the main entrance and seating area for the building. On the

    right, about a third of the way down this corridor is the entrance to the staff lounge.

    The lounge has yellow and rust colored walls with posters of musical instruments

    on them. Long tables have been pushed together to make one large dining table

    surrounded by fourteen stackable metal padded chairs. There are also square pedestal

    tables with 4 chairs around them, a sectional sofa in the corner and a homemade seating

    counter, made by the Executive Director, along the window. Scattered around on the

    tables are numerous magazines such as Wired, Entertainment Weekly, World, Christianity

    Today, Fast Company, and Bass Player.

    Near the sink in the kitchenette is a rectangular table that is known as the free

    food table. On any given day one will find coupons, flyers for local restaurants and

    events, and food free for the taking. Usually this food is left over from a party at

    someones house on the weekend or from teams that are celebrating a birthday. On days

    when someone has picked up the left over pastries from Panera or Einsteins there is an

    abundance of food and enthusiasm.

    Adjacent to the staff lounge is a storage closet, two conference rooms, the office

    of the Executive Director, the office of the Development Director, and the office of the

    Senior Director. Due to the sensitive nature of some of the meetings that take place in the

    offices and conference rooms there is a white noise machine in the lounge. The Senior

    Directors office is connected to the human resource directors office, which also


    connects to the main office space. Nearly every piece of furniture in the lounge and even

    throughout the office has been donated.

    To the north of the parking lot is a large field and across the field about 300

    meters away is the other building that CFC shares. The building is owned by the landlord

    but built to accommodate the needs of CFC as well as those of the landlords company in

    the adjacent building. It is a cavernous 1,858 square meter building. Through the sliding

    glass doors of the main entrance on the east side of the building there is a room that can

    seat 500 people around circular banquet tables. Sound absorbing panels that measure 2m

    x 2m adorn the walls. Opposite the front doors, the West wall has an overhead door so

    large that a fire truck can be driven into this room. Right now there is a large portable

    stage in front of the door. A black backdrop on poles, made over 25 years ago by CFC

    employees in a now defunct band, stands behind the stage. A motorized movie screen can

    be lowered in front of the overhead door and two other movie screens are mounted on the

    walls on either side. The North and South sides of the building contain soundproof rooms

    so bands can rehearse. There is also a recording studio that along with the entire building

    was designed with the aid of CFC employees. The prayers, emotional investment, and

    hard work of CFC employees link this entire facility to corporate and personal identity.

    CFC uses this large auditorium hall for fundraisers, outreaches, rehearsal,

    corporate events, conferences, and community events. When bands rehearse this building

    is full of music and activity. On any given day it is not uncommon to find people riding

    scooters, throwing Frisbees and footballs, playing hanky sack, or writing songs.

    Electronic communication. To facilitate communication with employees the

    leadership of CFC has set up an intranet. Every employee is expected to access this


    intranet on a daily basis. On the intranet landing-page are the headings, Stuff you really

    need to know! Important dates, Team reports, and [C.F.C] events. Each of these

    sections is populated with the latest news. From the navigation bar at the top of the page

    one finds the options: links, prayer and praise, outreach departments, support services

    departments, current events, about us, and help. The About us button leads to CFC

    mission vision and values. CFC values community, worldwide influence, innovative

    communication, life change, and strategic partnerships. CFC exists to create innovative

    resources for global impact and to use creative communication for life change. The CFC

    ministry focuses on virtual or social media ministry, communication training, music and

    performing arts, and media and film production.

    The CFC public website landing page states, Stories of people giving L.I.F.E:

    labor, influence, finances, expertise. Visitors to the site find a crisp page and pictures of

    smiling people. Personal stories of sacrifice in order to serve others scroll on the main

    page. Next to these stories are six navigation buttons that provide access to CFC events

    and resources.

    The About tab leads to a page that states, People need to experience the love

    of Christ. We do whatever it takes to make that possible. This is followed by a retelling

    of the Biblical account found in the book of Acts, Chapter 17 of the apostle of Paul

    speaking in Athens. CFC leadership and employees often quote this passage. While in

    Athens, Paul uses familiar cultural references to introduce the topic of Christ to the

    Athenians. It is the desire of all at CFC to follow Pauls example. CFC artists perform

    popular secular music. CFC employees seek to use the Internet, social media, and other

    contemporary communication mediums to engage audiences. It is evident that employees


    at CFC place a high value on keeping up with communication trends and techniques.

    The website has testimonials from satisfied customers and people who have made

    radical lifestyle changes e.g. college ministry workers, international workers, and a

    college student who went from promiscuous and drunk to sober and chaste. Numerous

    videos showcase the talents and effectiveness of CFC artists and resources.

    Opportunities for involvement with CFC range from internships, to volunteer, to

    full-time positions. Many roles are listed such as musician, software coder, app.

    developer, administrative assistant, but other possible identity descriptors such as

    character and personality traits are rarely mentioned in job descriptions. There is mention

    of relational skills such as, team player, communication skills, and good with

    people. Character traits such as honesty, initiative, teachable, adaptability, ability to

    learn, heart for ministry and serving others were mentioned infrequently.

    The employees/office life. The employees at CFC are all in vocational ministry.

    All CFC employees raise the necessary finances to pay their salary and ministry

    expenses. They live frugally and drive their cars into the ground. Tenures range from first

    year interns fresh out of college to veterans of thirty years or more. CFC employee ages

    range from 23 to 65. Eleven employees, two males and nine females are single, and the

    remaining 81 employees are married.

    CFC is overwhelmingly comprised of Caucasians and most of the employees are

    from upper-middle class protestant families. There is one Chinese-American and one

    Hispanic, but no African Americans currently working for CFC All of the employees at

    CFC lament this lack of diversity. CFC did recruit African American musicians but was

    discouraged by African Americans from forming an African American ministry due to


    the cultural differences. Instead, CFC helped that same ministry of African Americans to

    start its own music ministry. This ministry shares the office space with CFC and its

    presence adds to the ethnic diversity.

    Most of the employees are musicians, drawn to CFC because of the emphasis on

    using music in ministry. As CFC navigates a significant change in ministry tactics the

    musical outreach presence is diminished and more ministry is taking place online. As a

    result, many of these musicians spend most of their time working in the office rather than

    performing. Few of these musicians actually have degrees in music. CFC employees have

    degrees in engineering, computer science, graphic design, business, IT, communication.

    This is actually quite convenient as many employees now find themselves working in

    their field of study.

    Husbands and wives are required to both be employed by CFC. This goal of this

    policy is to foster the strongest alignment possible between couples and CFC. Ministry

    life can be quite demanding and if both souses are not aligned in commitment to ministry

    the possibility of increased marital strain is very real. As a result, this policy reflects the

    commitment of CFC to the importance of strong families. Also intended as a way to help

    families every wife is allowed a wives day each week. This day may be used as the

    couple sees fit but is generally assumed to be a day set aside for activities related to

    running a household such as shopping and other errands. One employee commented that

    while she does appreciate having the day, it does seem a bit sexist. She feels, pressured

    [to perform more culturally accepted roles], rather than what my husband and I think a

    wife should be. Why doesnt my husband get a husbands day? Is he more important?

    Does he not do as much? As couples have families, moms who once performed or


    worked in the office may choose to remain employed as a full-time mom. Some moms

    will choose to come back to the office when their children enter school and others will

    not. This creates a workplace that consists of male and female singles, married couples,

    and fathers, but few wives who are mothers. Wives who are mothers are still considered

    full time employees but they are not required to work in the office.

    On the second and fourth Wednesday of every month there is a 9 a.m. all-staff

    meeting followed at 10 a.m. by a two-hour all-staff prayer meeting. On this particular

    Wednesday the center aisle leading to the staff meeting area is busy with people. Prior to

    the meeting a couple of employees are playing guitar in their workspace. There is a

    parade of people carrying mugs of fresh coffee, tea, or water bottles coming from the

    lounge and headed to the staff meeting area. Some are eating breakfast. On this, or any

    given day at CFC, it is not uncommon to see someone whizzing by on a scooter or

    running down the carpeted hallway in stocking feet in order to slide across the hardwood

    floor in the entryway.

    There is energy in the air as the sound of music, the aromas of coffee and

    breakfast, and the sounds of people talking and laughing collide. The informality of the

    employees and the CFC culture is also apparent in the decorum of the employees. Most

    are in T-shirts and jeans with tennis shoes, or flip flops and a Hawaiian shirt. There are a

    few wearing slacks and collared shirts. To a man all shirts remain un-tucked. Tattoos,

    earrings, ball caps, and T-shirts that say Spelling Bee Champien or SPAM are

    common sights. Ties are definitely an uncommon sight. Judging by the stocking feet in

    the room, shoes are optional. This assembly includes a professional comedian, musicians,

    songwriters, graphic designers, software engineers, and administrators. To all who enter


    CFC the lighthearted, informal, irreverent, friendly and even family atmosphere is readily

    apparent. This is a place where any employee can walk right into the National Directors

    office and call him, or any leader for that matter, in decidedly familiar terms e.g. Hi

    Mike, or Yo, Anderson, which is favored by those from the east coast.

    At 9:05 a.m. the meeting began. Many employees appeared tired as they slouched

    in their chairs. In the midst of chatter and one-liners the Senior Director of CFC began to

    take control of the meeting. The clock on the wall displayed the wrong time.

    This particular day began with a celebration as a new employee had joined the

    ministry that shares the space with CFC. As it turns out he is a rap artist. His introduction

    to CFC included a powerful performance of a poem that he wrote. The refrain of the

    poem was, when was the last time somebody told you how important you are? The

    conclusion of his performance is met with whoops, cheers and a standing ovation as

    people are visibly moved.

    This is followed by a story from some CFC members who have returned from

    leading worship at a conference in Europe for American students doing mission work.

    The students held a silent auction during the conference and raised $16,000 to help some

    of their fellow students in need of money. Their goal was only $10,000. In the applause

    that followed the work and workers were affirmed as was their identity as agents of life

    change was affirmed, confirmed, and reinforced. The musicians relate that to these

    American students, the opportunity to be led in worship in their own language was a

    significant and worthy experience. One of the conference leaders was quoted as saying,

    we are so blessed by CFC serving.

    The Senior Director of CFC next shares a personal story about having compassion


    for the lost. The director shares about asking God, wheres my heart? and admonishing

    those at the meeting to examine their own heart. The message is clear, the condition of

    the heart is of great import and it is expected that the leaders of CFC and employees be

    motivated by love for God and others.

    Another team has just returned from Central America and they were invited up

    front. More stories are told about the significance of the communication training that they

    conducted. The people that were trained will work in 4000 schools and in 1000 churches

    each year and distribute 100,000 pairs of shoes. One of the trainees has survived

    numerous suicide attempts and was quoted as saying, now I know that I have a story to

    tell. The significance of the work and importance of life change is further reinforced.

    Its time for another celebration. A new recruiting video was produced and was

    shown at the meeting. The script, music, artwork, photography, and editing were all done

    by CFC employees. This was a celebration not only of their creativity but also of a

    successful collaboration across multiple CFC teams.

    There was still one more celebration. There was cake and coffee at the back of

    the staff meeting area in celebration of those who have birthdays in the month. One of the

    cakes is gluten-free.

    After a ten-minute coffee break the meeting resumes. The human resources

    director gets up front to announce that the vision of his department includes staff

    development. In fact, all employees are required to take classes in the areas of theology,

    biblical studies, and ministry. He went on to announce that a class will soon be offered

    and anyone who needs the class may take time off to attend the one-week class.

    The meeting concluded with a skit for an upcoming fundraiser. One of the graphic


    design artists has dressed up as a golfer and encourages those assembled to recruit

    golfers. The golfers will solicit pledges per hole as they golf 100 holes in one day. This is

    an annual event at CFC. After 15 years this new skit and character breathed new life into

    this event. The skit was a hit and becomes a recurring theme at staff meetings and team

    meetings. The character was so popular the decision was made to launch a marketing film

    series campaign as encouragement for recruited golfers.

    Employees are dismissed for a quick break before reconvening in the staff

    meeting area. The prayer time was introduced as a, meeting with Jesus. The National

    Director introduces this time with a personal story of wrong thinking. In the story he

    related that God told him to, put on your big boy pants. He went on to say, I let my

    problems get in the way of seeing God. He then invited us to stand as he and another

    musician began to play and sing to lead all in a time of musical worship.

    The office space was filled with enthusiastic singing. Hands are raised in praise

    and eyes are closed. Around the room were both smiles and frowns. Some worshipped

    with their arms crossed while others were more demonstrative as they clapped along or

    signed the lyrics. The rhythms, melodies, and harmonies of the music were a strong

    unifying force. The lyrics further reinforced an identity marked with faith.

    As the prayer time continued employees were admonished to, make a difference

    for God. The CFC National Director asked whether people found their worth and their

    value in God or in performing. At the conclusion of the prayer time, before being

    dismissed to lunch, the employees were reminded that, God is doing great stuff because

    we are a community.

    Another Wednesday morning meeting also began with a story. CFC might merge


    with a larger ministry that is also a part of the parent organization. Some of the CFC

    employees were uncertain or skeptical about this prospect. The Senior Director of CFC

    was once part of that ministry. The director shared from personal experience the process

    of considering the merger. As it turned out the director had a difficult experience with

    this other ministry and was also skeptical. This built common ground with other C.F.C

    members and also served as an opportunity to reassure them. The director related a

    conviction that this will be a good move for CFC

    Next, three other leaders of CFC shared their personal attachment to the mission,

    vision, and values process and the desire, even need, to more fully include employees in

    the mission, vision, and values process. In the following two weeks there will be a series

    of meetings that involve CFC leaders and workers. These meetings are opportunities for

    CFC employees to express their personal values as well as the values they think exist at

    CFC, or they would like to see exist at CFC The CFC employees are grateful for this

    opportunity to be involved.

    Another story was told about a woman who listened to a worship recording

    published by CFC. She had written to CFC to express her gratitude for the recording, as it

    has been significant in her relationship with God. The story further reinforced that CFC is

    about creative communication and life change.

    This meeting concluded with a different type of celebration. After 15 years of

    service two members are moving to work in another city. It was bittersweet as they are

    well loved and will be missed, but all agree that this is Gods leading. The departing

    couple asked that no one post anything on Facebook or tell people at their church until

    they have made their own public announcement. The meeting adjourned with laughter


    and lots of coffee as all transitioned into their prayer time.

    There was a guest leader at the prayer time. He was a layman at a local church

    and he loves to pray. He announced that hes going to lead a concert of prayer and a

    guided prayer for unity. He began by telling a story. The story was from his life and

    about the joy he experienced when he heard the pitter-patter of his childrens feet racing

    to greet him when he came home from work. He imagined that God experiences a similar

    joy when we come to him like children eager to be with their father.

    Personal artifacts in the workplace. A walk among the cubicles at CFC further

    reinforced the themes of faith, family, spirituality, and life change at CFC. Each cubicle

    offered a unique reflection of the CFC employee who works there.

    One particular workstation was noticeably tidy. A piano keyboard was on the

    desk. The cloth cubicle walls and shelves contained framed pictures of sports

    memorabilia from this employees hometown. There was a 10-year tenure plaque on

    display. A small collection of books and a Bible were neatly arranged to one side. Two

    childhood pictures hung on the wall alongside key chains with the words I love you


    A workstation nearby presented a stark juxtaposition. Littered with papers the

    desktop was invisible. Sticky notes surrounded the computer screen. The walls of the

    cubicle could barely be seen through the dog pictures and cartoons that were tacked to the

    fabric walls. Magnets clung to the metal cubicle frame and filing cabinets. There were

    scores of books and Bibles. Notes of encouragement that say, hello gorgeous, you are

    beautiful, and you are loved beyond measure shared the precious wall space of this 6

    x 8 workstation. There were boxes overflowing with papers on the floor.


    At yet another workstation family pictures and band pictures from this employees

    past role as a musician were on display. A map of the world was on the wall and a plant

    rested on a nearby table. There was a framed Scripture verse and nearby a sign read,

    Bang head here. The framed picture from the golf course was a family gift that didnt

    have a spot at the house so it is at the office.

    Throughout the office the artifacts found in workspaces projected the identity and

    values of the workers. Yes, there were Bibles and scripture verses, but there are also

    photos of secular bands, books from numerous genres including works by Plato and Sun

    Tzu. Relics from high school and college, family pictures and souvenirs from

    international trips abound. Many of these artifacts were physical symbols of stories of

    significant life events.

    There were even artifacts that belong to CFC. The twisted trailer hitch on the

    table along the center aisle is the story of a nasty van and trailer accident while a band

    was on tour. No one was injured. The archive of pictures, records, videos, cassettes and

    CDs represent stories of days gone by. Many of the stories are deeply imbedded in CFC

    culture. There was the time a band started 3 different songs at the same time. An

    employee gave an entire gospel presentation with his fly down. It seems that each band

    had a story about a time when after praying for the rain to stop, God did indeed stop the

    rain. There was no lack for stories at CFC

    Indepth interviews. Indepth interviews were conducted with 18 employees of

    CFC. The interviews lasted 30 to 60 minutes in duration. Interviewees included people

    who have worked at CFC less than a year to senior leadership with over 20 years of

    tenure. Interviewees were not provided with questions before the interview. In this way


    the answers would be more spontaneous and hopefully less guarded or measured. The

    diversity observed at CFC was mirrored in the results of the in-depth interviews though

    some trends did emerge. See Appendix A for a complete list of questions that were used

    as a guideline for in-depth interviews.

    Personal and corporate identity frames. CFC employees framed their identity by

    a hierarchy of roles, relationships, and character/personality traits. Relational identities

    such as husband, wife, friend, son, brother, firstborn, and daughter were frequently

    mentioned. The mom identity was typically communicated with the most salience. A

    couple of people responded that they honestly dont think about their identity. Everyone

    eventually included Christfollower as a significant factor in their personal identity.

    Many people also listed character traits as central to their identity. Words such as

    authentic, creative, spiritual, learner, and responsible were quite common. Other

    employees also referred to personality traits such as introvert or extrovert from the

    MyersBriggs personality assessment. Attributes from the Strengthfinders assessment

    were frequently referenced as well.

    Roles made up another significant category for personal identity. While some

    relational identities such as wife can also be viewed as roles many people referred to their

    role as leader, musician, artist, or engineer (a reflection of a college degree earned, not a

    CFC role) as a significant part of their personal identity. More than one person expressed

    a desire to see their identity not in their role but rather in their relationship to and with


    CFC employees overwhelmingly stated that they are asked to be Christ followers,

    creative, and mission minded as part of their corporate identity. Note that specific roles


    are not a salient aspect of corporate identity. CFC employees interpret corporate identity

    primarily as character/personality traits, and to a lesser degree, relational. Responses

    indicate that at CFC there is a bias for action, extroversion, initiative, and leadership.

    Those who identified themselves as slow processors or introverted acknowledged this as

    problematic at times.

    One respondent indicated feeling pressured to lead a certain way. This person is a

    slower processor and expresses deep concern for the well being of CFC employees who

    are also slow processors. In spite of this, this person sees CFC as, very relationship

    driven, its policy-phobic. For this person, CFC has been a very healthy place for me

    to become who God made me to be. This statement is characteristic of many who

    mentioned being, in-process and moving towards an identity seen as authentic and


    Not everyone enjoys such a good fit. One person replied, I dont know. I have

    no idea [who CFC wants me to be]. The emotion behind this response was powerful and

    saturated with pain. Other employees voiced similar responses of not being sure. Some

    suggested that CFC was searching for its identity and therefore the employees are unsure

    of their identity.

    All of the participants in the indepth interviews indicated that they have multiple

    identities. This is due in part to the various roles and relationships they perform. Another

    important factor is that CFC asks its employees to fill multiple roles. That CFC is in the

    midst of significant corporate change also presents opportunities for role and or identity


    There are many musicians at CFC who are no longer in a musical role. Some are


    now mothers. Others, due to family and personal matters have chosen to leave a band to

    work in the office. Then there are those who are no longer performing because of the

    organizational changes at CFC. None of those musicians indicated that being something

    other than a musician was being fake. Many stated that the musician identity was no

    longer as important as their new identity e.g. mom, executive assistant, web developer.

    For others the musician identity remained at the top of their identity hierarchy. These

    employees experienced more negative feelings about their identity. In either case there is

    a clear personal identity hierarchy and a contextual aspect to identity. Musicians who no

    longer perform at CFC find opportunities outside of CFC to perform. One employee

    remarked that these changes have resulted in a deeper understanding of identity. The

    identity of musician was now too limiting.

    Identity conflict or personal growth? It was surprising that despite the ambiguity

    about work roles and methodology brought on by the change from a music focused

    ministry to a more social media oriented ministry at CFC, very few employees indicated

    significant conflict between their personal and work identities. Conflicts were most

    frequently framed not as conflicts in identity, but conflicts in style or tactics. Only four of

    the eighteen people interviewed indicated acute identity conflicts. For example, introverts

    saw differences between introverts and extroverts as opportunities for personal growth.

    The extroverts didnt seem to sense the difference so acutely. People who did not identify

    themselves as a leader but were asked to be a leader also framed the situation as an

    opportunity for personal growth rather than an identity conflict. Even musicians who no

    longer in perform roles have embraced the changes in their work roles from performer to

    office worker as necessary. A couple of musicians are struggling with this change but


    most embrace it as an opportunity for growth and necessary for the future of CFC.

    When asked if a change in role or behavior resulted in that person feeling they

    were being fake most people responded in the negative. One employee felt that the

    sarcastic identity was not welcome at CFC. To set sarcasm aside was not seen as being

    fake, merely an opportunity to show a different part of a multifaceted identity. When

    asked about their identities such as mom, father, or brother, employees remarked that

    those identities are affirmed but not asked of them at CFC. As such to not manifest that

    identity was not disaffirming, it simply was not salient to the context.

    An introverted employee remarked that to go have lunch with others in the staff

    lounge was not consistent with that persons identity. Yet the relational culture and

    expectations at CFC put pressure on this person to enact an extroverted identity. The

    employee did not consider this an identity conflict. Rather, this employee embraced this

    as a challenge for personal growth and as a person who cares about people an opportunity

    to enact that part of this employees identity. However, more than one employee who

    self identified as introverted commented on the need to be more extroverted. One

    employee said, Introversion is a big part of who I am. It feels like who I am is not okay,

    I have to fake it to keep people happy with me. Its frustrating. Its tiring. I waste energy

    on keeping people happy.

    The importance and acceptance of personal growth is a common theme in these

    interviews. Changes in roles or identities are most often embraced as an opportunity to

    grow and develop another aspect of ones identity. Many employees commented that

    being stretched to be a leader, more extroverted, less sarcastic, and committed to

    interpersonal conflict resolution actually allowed them to be more real.


    Emotional responses to identity conflict. While most employees are currently not

    experiencing identity conflict there have been times in the past when there was conflict

    between personal and CFC work identity. Everyone acknowledged an experience of

    negative feelings about the situation. Feelings of frustration, anger, sadness, hurt, or

    being overlooked were frequently mentioned. One employee acknowledged feeling

    stigmatized and another acknowledged that identity conflict was a contributing factor that

    led to a diagnosis of clinical depression during an especially difficult time. One

    respondent said, I fear that if I complain much more than I have that I will be labeled a

    troublemaker and a whiner and leaders will not want to work with me I have

    complained as much as I dare. Still, in the majority of these conflicts, respondents

    acknowledged that the conflict had more to do with style or tactics than identity.

    Respondents indicated that any feelings of guilt were not imposed on them by CFC but

    were self-imposed.

    Job satisfaction and productivity during times of identity conflict. Employees

    equated identity conflict with poorer job satisfaction, diminished enthusiasm, and often

    times less production. In the cases where production and effectiveness waned, employees

    indicated it was a result of the emotional fatigue and not an attempt to be vindictive or

    passive aggressive. All expressed a desire to work with integrity and in their words,

    heartily as unto the Lord. Less enthusiasm also led some to put limits on their work.

    These employees indicated they would do their job but would be less willing to go the

    extra mile. Employees also indicated they might become hard to work with. One person

    did indicate that they actually worked harder saying, I dont get depressed or lack

    motivation. It motivates me to improve. To prove to myself and others I can do it


    Identity reconciliation. While some employees acknowledged such coping

    mechanisms as crying, exercising, creating or listening to music, and even smashing

    glass against the trash compactor, everyone indicated that dialogue was central and

    essential to the resolution process. This dialogue would take place with God, ones self,

    or others. Many people indicated that journaling is an important part of the reconciliation

    process. Everyone acknowledge that prayer, talking with God, was part the reconciliation

    process. Most also mentioned the importance of seeking the counsel of others. The

    perception that those in leadership at CFC are, at least for the most part, approachable

    and available for dialogue is very helpful to those in conflict.

    Identity affirmation in the workplace. Textual analysis of the interview transcripts

    reveals that there is a great sense of freedom among employees at CFC. Not all

    employees feel that freedom but most do. Time and again respondents commented that

    they felt they have the freedom to grow, they have the freedom to say no, they have the

    freedom to be different, they have the freedom to approach their leaders, and they have

    the freedom to fail.

    Another common theme is that leaders at CFC verbally affirm the work and

    efforts of the employees. It seems like about every day someone says something to the

    effect of, good job, we couldnt have done this without you or something else that helps

    to build me up. For most of the interviewees a simple, good job was affirmation

    enough. Not only that, employees expressed gratitude that they felt heard and understood

    by their leaders. This dialogic culture and positive feedback contributed greatly to

    creating a strong culture corporation. In the words of one respondent, God has shown

    me that my identity is simply I am a human being of value just like everyone else and a


    follower of Christ. Honest consistent trustworthy communication says to me that I am a

    valuable human being.

    Other factors include strong personal alignment to corporate values, a

    commitment to honest communication, and a culture of empowerment and development.

    CFC leaders often speak of pushing decisions down. Every employee takes the MBTI

    personality assessment and Strengthfinders assessment. Most have also taken the DiSC

    assessment and some have taken the Birkman assessment. Leaders frequently refer to the

    results of these assessments when making job assignments. For employees this is an

    acknowledgement and affirmation of their personal identity. Furthermore, it

    communicates that the leaders at CFC respect that identity. Lastly, many employees find

    affirmation by being told that they have a career path, a future at CFC. Many feel

    affirmed and appreciated because they are given the opportunity to fail and to grow.

    Six respondents, who together represent nearly 60 years at CFC, could not think

    of a single instance w