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Visualizing organizational identity: the history of a capitalist enterprise

Barnes, V. and Newton, L. (2018) Visualizing organizational identity: the history of a capitalist enterprise. Management & Organizational History, 13 (1). pp. 24-53. ISSN 1744-9367

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1080/17449359.2018.1431552


This article examines the context in which firms reflect on their own history in order to help form their organizational identity. By undertaking research in business archives, it shows that external change is as important as an internal transition in understanding shifts in the way an organization understands its past. We trace the messages communicated internally through paintings of past chairmen and senior staff when they were displayed inside the head office of Lloyds Bank during the 1960s and 1970s. These portraits generated interest and were an effective means of non-verbal communication which provoked a discussion about the purpose, values and norms in the firm’s past, present, and future. The objects retold the story of the bank’s success as a privately owned family firm in the midst of on-going political debates inside the Labour party about the nationalization of large banking companies. With the portraits in place, they recognized the bank’s history as a capitalist enterprise. The pictures legitimized the tradition of private ownership, helped to form organizational identity, and set future obligations that would see its continuation in what was a period of potential change.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Henley Business School > International Business and Strategy
ID Code:75451
Uncontrolled Keywords:Organizational identity; banks; capitalism; nationalization; political ideology
Publisher:Taylor and Francis


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