Document Type




Ostermeier, K., Anzollitto, P., Cooper, D. and Hancock, J. (2023), "When identities collide: organizational and professional identity conflict and employee outcomes", Management Decision, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print.


identity conflict; uncertainty-identity theory; emotional exhaustion; psychological distress; turnover intentions

Identifier Data


Emerald Publishing Limited

Publication Source

Management Decision

Rights Management

Copyright © 2023, Emerald Publishing Limited



While many workers have both professional and organizational identities, which can have conflicting expectations, little is known about this specific and common form of identity conflict. The purpose of this research is to develop and test a measure of organizational and professional identity conflict (OPIC), which the authors define as a psychological conflict that individuals experience between who they feel they are supposed to be in their organization and who they feel they are supposed to be in their profession. The authors theorize that this identity conflict will lead to emotional exhaustion and psychological distress, further leading to turnover intentions.


To test the hypothesized model, the authors utilized a two-study constructive replication design (Study 1, n = 225; Study 2, n = 176) and tested the model amongst both academics and health care professionals using structural equation modeling.


The authors find that identity conflict is associated with both increased levels of emotional exhaustion and psychological distress and, consequently, increased turnover intentions.

Practical implications

Practically, organizations must understand and align themselves with the wider professional expectations, as well as communicate this alignment, in order to avoid OPIC and improve employee well-being.


The authors create and validate a measure to assess and show its detrimental effects on workplace outcomes.