Identity work within attempts to transform healthcare: Invisible team processes

Cindy L. Cain, Monica Frazer, Tina R. Kilaberia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Studies have shown that workers’ identities matter for a host of individual and organizational outcomes. However, the question of how identities work becomes more complex when considering settings where workers must negotiate multiple – and sometimes conflicting – identities. Interprofessional healthcare teams are one such setting. Within interprofessional teams, workers are expected to adopt both professional and team-based identities, sometimes leading to confusion and conflicts. Using longitudinal qualitative analyses of healthcare team members’ reflective audio diaries, we document identity work of one team as they attempted to create and adopt a new approach to care. We analyze 176 recordings over 30 weeks and find that: team members experience multiple identification targets more or less conflicting, depending on the organizational context; team members from different professional backgrounds experience identity processes differently; and conflicts with others affect how team members see themselves and one another. These findings enrich our understanding of how multiple identities are reconciled in the workplace, and illustrate hidden aspects of forming and sustaining team-based work.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)370-396
Number of pages27
JournalHuman Relations
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2019


  • change
  • conflict
  • healthcare organizations
  • innovation
  • organizational culture
  • teamwork

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • General Social Sciences
  • Strategy and Management
  • Management of Technology and Innovation


Dive into the research topics of 'Identity work within attempts to transform healthcare: Invisible team processes'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this