This paper introduces a configurational approach to the study of multiple identities. Specifically, it examines how prosocial identity combines with collective and individualistic identities in conflicting and enhancing ways to affect prosocial behavior in organizational settings. We examine an unexplored intuition in the multiple identities literature that when all identities are enhancing (a mutual enhancement configuration), it will be best for prosocial outcomes. Our results show, however-across two field studies and two experiments-that enhancement between prosocial and collective identities (a focused enhancement configuration) results in the highest levels of prosocial behavior. Furthermore, we trace this result to the greater self-serving orientation activated in a mutual enhancement configuration, where one's individualistic identity enhances one's other identities. Our work demonstrates the value of a configurational approach to the study of multiple identities, and it challenges the assumption that a mutual enhancement configuration is always desirable.
Bibliographical notePublisher Copyright:
© 2017 INFORMS.
- Identity configurations
- Multiple identities
- Prosocial behavior