Cultivating Foreignness: How Organizations Maintain and Leverage Minority Identities

Jesper Edman*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Citations (Scopus)


Scholars increasingly recognize that organizational fields contain minority identities, linked to alternative logics. Extant work has been largely silent on how such minority identities are maintained, and what their implications are for organizational agency. I contribute to filling this gap by examining how organizations cultivate minority identities, and how such identities both enable and constrain agency. Employing the foreignness of multinational enterprise subsidiaries as a particular case of minority identity, I find that managers actively cultivate minority identities by embedding into niche networks, reinforcing alternative expectations, and categorizing themselves into distinct collective identities. These elements of the minority identity enable particular forms of agency - internal experimentation and an external license to deviate - while constraining others - adaptation to the dominant logic and positioning in mature market segments. The findings extend theory by highlighting how minority identities are generated and sustained, as well as their implications for agency.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)55-88
Number of pages34
JournalJournal of Management Studies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2016 Jan 1
Externally publishedYes


  • Foreignness
  • Identity
  • Institutional logics
  • Multinational enterprise

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Strategy and Management
  • Management of Technology and Innovation


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