My network, my self: A social network approach to work-based identity

Jordana R. Moser, Blake E. Ashforth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


As the organizational landscape becomes increasingly turbulent and the gig economy grows, the conventional anchors for a work-based sense of identity – a relatively stable organization, workgroup, and occupation – are losing relevance. We argue that a “network identity,” defined as the core, distinctive, and more or less enduring character of a set of social ties (e.g., “we are high-achievers”), helps fill this growing void because individuals’ networks often reflect agency and have more or less fluid boundaries and portability. These attributes enable individuals to develop or join networks that may transcend specific contexts and adapt to change. An individual's network identity simultaneously implicates all three levels of self – individual, relational, and collective – such that it is a potentially very powerful means for realizing his or her identity motives. Crossing the dimensions of network boundary strength and network density, we offer a 2 × 2 typology of networks and discuss their implications for members’ network identities and what kinds of individuals might prefer each network.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number100155
JournalResearch in Organizational Behavior
StatePublished - Jan 2021


  • Collectivism
  • Identity motives
  • Network identity
  • Networks
  • Uncertainty avoidance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management


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