The nature of corporate identity, an explanatory study undertaken within BBC Scotland

Rights statement
Awarding institution
  • University of Strathclyde
Date of award
  • 1996
Thesis identifier
  • T8755
Qualification Level
Qualification Name
Department, School or Faculty
  • This doctoral thesis is concerned with the management phenomenon of corporate identity. In brief, the writer's pre-understanding of corporate identity is that it refers to what an organisation 'is', i. e. its innate character. Data for this thesis was collected within a subsidiary of a high profile, internationally known, highly secretive and quintessentially British institution: the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). The objectives of this thesis are (a) to explain the nature of the social psychological process involved in corporate identity formation and (b) to explain the basic social structural process involved in acquiring and sustaining a corporate identity. This thesis is felt to be distinctive in three regards in that (a) the doctorate focuses on the identity of a subsidiary and in particular its sub brands, i. e. BBC Scotland (the subsidiary) and its relationship with BBC Radio Orkney and BBC Radio Shetland, (b) the writer appears to be the first management academic to have negotiated access within the BBC in order to undertake an extensive period of research, (c) this is thought to be the first PhD on corporate identity where the researcher has relied exclusively on in-depth qualitative methods of data collection within the research paradigm of naturalism. As such this thesis does not seek to establish universal laws regarding corporate identity but aims to contribute to an understanding of the phenomenon. In the tradition of naturalism the findings are in effect hypotheses since they only refer to the organisation under study. However, such findings potentially have real value in that the writer has to demonstrate connoisseurship of the institution under study and authenticity with regard to the data collected. The writer believes that he has met these requirements through revealing the distinct ideologies present within BBC Radio Orkney, BBC Radio Shetland as well as some of the ideologies within BBC Scotland. The findings of this doctorate revealed that (a) the basic social psychological process underpinning corporate identity was one of affinity. The data revealed that in both stations personnel has an affinity with at least six ideologies based on affection, alliance, closeness, attachment, nostalgia etc. The data not only demonstrated the importance of affinity to the basic social psychological process of corporate identity formation but also revealed that personnel had an affinity with different categories of ideology, i. e. corporate, professional and cultural. Thus the basic social psychological process of corporate identity can be described as being both multi-layered and complex. This has led the writer to give the following definition of corporate identity. "A corporate identity refers to what an organisation "is", e. g. its innate character. It is underpinned by a unique mix of ideologies (e. g. organisational, professional, etc) to which personnel have an affinity. An organisation's identity is experienced through everything an organisation says, makes or does, e. g. is experienced through total corporate communications. All identity may be good, bad, negative, unwanted etc". With regard to explaining the basic social structural process of corporate identity the synthesis of the data suggests that senior managers should undertake four activities (a) define the corporate mission and philosophy; (b) be sensitive to the multiple ideologies present within the organisation; (c) evaluate the ideologies vis a vis the corporate mission and philosophy and (d) nurture those ideologies which support the mission and philosophy. In light of the findings this doctorate provides policy advice to senior managers of BBC Scotland and the BBC; to the Secretary of State for National Heritage; to senior managers generally and to management academics.
Resource Type
Date Created
  • 1996
Former identifier
  • 504568