Our and their identity : The concept of organisational identity among Swedish wine importers

University essay from Umeå universitet/Handelshögskolan vid Umeå universitet; Umeå universitet/Handelshögskolan vid Umeå universitet


This explorative study address the concept of organisational identity described by Albert & Whetten and takes their concept from the individual level to the industry level. When doing so the lack of empirical research and theoretical knowledge within this area becomes clear. Although an unexplored area we argue that if Albert & Whetten interpreted, the members’ perception to an organisational level we believe that it is also possible to aggregate the perceptions of the members/managers to an inter-organisational/industry level. When taking the identity to the industry level questions like, who are we at an inter-organisational level or with other words is there an industry identity and how does the industry identity affect the actions within an industry?

In this thesis, we will try to fill this gap of knowledge and contribute to theoretical concepts of industry identities, by gathering empirical data to substantiate the concept of industry identity. We will try to fill the theoretical gap concerning identities within an industry; explaining the content of these identities and how they are defined, in line with the contribution by Albert & Whetten, the same way as individuals organisational identity arises. Whenever he or she asks the question, who are we and what kind of business are we in (Albert & Whetten 1985), it is the same way as for an organisation within an industry to ask questions like – which industry do I belong to and what kind of industry are we in. The processes stressed by Hatch & Schultz also raises questions like how does the industry identity affect the interactions/actions between identities within an industry or how does the actions by one identity affect another identity within an industry? One industry that can be assumed to have developed an inter-organisational identity over time, due to a long history and clear cultural anchoring the last 10-years has been faced with both radical change and crisis is the Swedish alcohol industry. The empirical data in this study is based on eight semi-structured telephone interviews with importers (managers or top team) in the Swedish alcohol industry.

Consequently, we approach this explorative study by stating the following question; Is there an industry identity within the Swedish alcohol import industry, and if so, what is the content of this identity and how does this identity affect the actions taken within the industry? The main purpose is to answer the question stated in this thesis by; to describe the central and distinctive characteristics/aspects of the Swedish alcohol importers identity and to find commonalities and differences within these industry identities. To relate to these central and distinctive aspects of the industry identity in relation to the actions taken by the organisations within the industry.

The conclusion of this thesis is; yes, there is an industry identity based on two orientations; the product or market orientation and the content of these identities are based on how their importers believe that you as an importer should act in selling wine to the customers. Further conclusion is that; yes, industry identity (i.e. product or market) does affect action or rather some types of actions.

The possibilities to extend and further explore this industry seem endless. The changes in the industry and the settings of the environment that it exists in are continuously and a constant on-going process even though Sweden still has a monopoly. Our study has raised many questions that would be interesting to investigate in another study, for example if these two approaches can co-exist or if one of them would be dominant. Or if they actually need each other.

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