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Identity affirmation through `signature style': A study of toy car designers

  • Author(s): Elsbach, Kimberly D
  • et al.
Abstract

I describe findings from a qualitative study of toy car designers that shows how creative workers may develop and express 'signature styles' through their work. The display of these signature styles - that were not advertised, stamped on products, or even recognized in official corporate marketing communications - allowed designers to affirm their creative, professional identities while designing commodity products within the practical constraints of a corporate context. Findings further revealed that creative workers used signature styles, primarily, to affirm the identity categorizations of 'idealistic' and 'independent'. I discuss how these findings extend our understanding of 'identity work' among creative workers, and may improve our ability to effectively manage these workers in corporate settings. © The Author(s), 2009.

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