This summary is provided by the IPR Organizational Communication Research Center.

Scholars have recognized the power of the identity perspective in helping understand employees’ loyalty, motivations, and behaviors. Although organizational identification has received much attention in employee-related investigations, a newer concept, identity fusion, has also recently been examined in organizational contexts. Researchers have proposed the idea of identity fusion as a situation where the self-other barrier is blurred and the group comes to be regarded as functionally equivalent to the personal self, such that the individual’s identity becomes fused with that of the collective or the group. To better understand this construct, the author of the current study examined the antecedents and outcomes of employee-organization identity fusion. Specifically, this study examined how employee-organization identity fusion is related to employees’ perceptions of symmetrical internal communication and the CEO’s authentic leadership and job engagement. Symmetrical internal communication occurs when communicators don’t try to control others’ perceptions but instead communicate honestly and openly.

An online survey was conducted between May and August 2019 and was available to people in the U.S. who were full-time employees at corporations with at least 1,000 employees. Quotas related to gender and ethnicity/race were instituted to ensure that the sample closely resembled the population of the U.S. workforce based. A total of 530 men (53%) and 480 women (47%) comprised the sample. Participant race, length of employment, and seniority were measured, with the majority of participants being white, experienced non-managers between the ages of 35-44 who had been employed between 3-5 years at their company.

Key Findings
1.) Employees who perceive their leaders to use symmetrical communication tend to see the leaders as more authentic.
2.) Symmetrical communication was also tied to increased employee-organization identity fusion.
— Consistent internal communication from leadership was critical in cultivating employees’ identity with their organization.
3.) Both symmetrical communication and identity fusion were found to have a positive relationship with job engagement.

Implications for practice
Organizations and leaders should 1.) implement changes to their communication style to encourage more back-and-forth symmetrical style communication in order to increase engagement among employees, 2.) understand that CEO perceptions have a strong influence on employee identity and engagement with the organization, and 3.) consider that authentic leadership has value in the workplace and consider strategies to be more genuine and connected to employees.

Krishna, A. (2022). Employee-Organization Identity Fusion: Connecting Leadership and Symmetrical Internal Communication to Identity-and Engagement-Related Outcomes. International Journal of Business Communication, 23294884221130744.

Find the original journal article here.

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