Organizational Identity in the Age of Digital Transformation (Literature Review)

Thesis (MA)

Advisor(s): Anna Keilbach (


For manufacturing firms, digital transformation (DT) does not just mean reconfiguring existing or designing new products and services (Osmundsen et al., 2018), but a fundamental change including their organizational identity and its activities. Manufacturing firms that were successful in the physical world face the dual challenge of adopting new digital technologies and integrating them into existing structures (Ciriello et al., 2018; Drechsler et al., 2020; Sebastian et al., 2017). However, this often causes resistance as incumbent firms’ existing structures and established processes are deeply rooted in their identity, which organizational members attempt to preserve. By implication, this means that organizational identity shapes how things are done (Dutton et al., 1994).

From extant research we know that „digital transformation involves a new organizational identity” (Wessel et al., 2021, p. 1). In contrast, previous research investigated that firm’s core identity is essential to balance stability and fluidity (e.g., Gioia, 1998; Schwartz et al., 2008). Hence, it remains questionable whether and how organizational identity occurs to change in light of DT. Therefore, this research follows the call of Wessel et al. 2020 to further investigate organizational identity in the age of DT. To address this gap, this thesis conducts a systematic literature review: What do we know about technology-induced organizational identity change? The goal of this thesis is to structure extant knowledge; identify patterns such as existing organizational identity types, change behaviors and factors; interrelations of the OI and DT; and uncover gaps.


  • Review relevant literature in the respective field
  • Cluster identified themes within in the data
  • Identify patterns such as organizational identity types, change behaviors and factors
  • Uncover research gaps
  • Derive a theoretical framework



  • High degree of autonomy and individual responsibility
  • Interest in research on digital transformation in manufacturing firms
  • Experience in literature reviews and qualitative research is beneficial


Further Information

The thesis can be written in English or German. The topic can also be adapted to your interests. If you have further questions, please do not hesitate to contact me directly. Please send your application including our application form, a current transcript of records, and your CV to Please note that we can only consider applications with complete documents. 


Ciriello, R. F., Richter, A., & Schwabe, G. (2018). Digital innovation. Business & Information Systems Engineering, 60, 563-569.

Drechsler, K., Gregory, R., Wagner, H.-T., & Tumbas, S. (2020). At the crossroads between digital innovation and digital transformation. Communications of the association for information systems, 47(1), 23.

Dutton, J. E., Dukerich, J. M., & Harquail, C. V. (1994). Organizational images and member identification. Administrative Science Quarterly, 239-263.

Gioia, D. A. (1998). From individual to organizational identity.

Osmundsen, K., Iden, J., & Bygstad, B. (2018). Digital transformation: Drivers, success factors and implications. Proceedings of the 12th Mediterranean Conference on Information Systems, Corfu, Greek.

Schwartz, S. J., Zamboanga, B. L., & Weisskirch, R. S. (2008). Broadening the study of the self: Integrating the study of personal identity and cultural identity. Social and Personality Psychology Compass, 2(2), 635-651.

Sebastian, I., Ross, J., Beath, C., Mocker, M., Moloney, K., & Fonstad, N. (2017). How big old companies navigate digital transformation. MIS Quarterly Executive, 16(3), 197-213.

Wessel, L., Baiyere, A., Ologeanu-Taddei, R., Cha, J., & Blegind-Jensen, T. (2021). Unpacking the difference between digital transformation and IT-enabled organizational transformation. Journal of the Association for Information Systems, 22(1), 102-129.