Author(s), Title and Publication

Ju, R. & Shoham, M. (2017). Multidimensionality of identification: Exploring the local and global experiences of organizational members across Eastern and Western contexts. Western Journal of Communication, 81(2), 206-224. DOI: 10.1080/10570314.2016.1235281


Organizational identification, which refers to an individual’s feeling of connectedness to organizations, is one of the most frequently studied topics in organizational communication. As a Western-based construct, most organizational identification studies are conducted in the Western context. Yet the differences between people from Eastern and Western cultures, in their attachment to organizations, are still unknown. Thus the question that guided this study focused on the influence that national cultures have on organizational identification levels, and measured both global (organizational) and local (workgroup/work unit) levels of identification in two countries that represent significant cultural differences: China and the United States. While global identification reported participants’ orientation to their organization at large, local identification addressed their workgroup/work unit orientation.

Through a survey that targeted full-time employees across various organizational roles and levels (332 from China and 289 from the U.S.), this study found that employees in the U.S. tend to have higher levels of local identification than their Chinese counterparts, suggesting that culture does have an effect on global (organizational) identification level. The results also suggest that employees in China tend to have higher levels of global identification than their American counterparts. Additionally, the study found that organizational identification increased as workgroup/work unit identification increased, and vice versa, for employees in China. Interestingly, a negative relationship between local and global identification among employees in the U.S. suggested that, as global identification increases, local identification decreases, and vice versa.

Implications for Practice

Organizations should (1) consider national culture in any effort undertaken to promote identification across members, and (2) be aware that energy to enhance identification may occur at local and/or global levels of the organization, and while local identification is positively related to global identification in the Chinese sample, one may come at the expense of the other in Western cultures.

Location of Article

This article is available online at: (abstract free, purchase full article)

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Heidy Modarelli handles Growth & Marketing for IPR. She has previously written for Entrepreneur, TechCrunch, The Next Web, and VentureBeat.
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