Moral Conflicts as a Motor of Moral Identity Development at Work : Self-Awareness and Micro Processes in Weekly Experiences
Huhtala, Mari; Saskia Kunnen, E. (2019). Moral Conflicts as a Motor of Moral Identity Development at Work : Self-Awareness and Micro Processes in Weekly Experiences. Identity, 19 (4), 258-276. DOI: 10.1080/15283488.2019.1670183
© Taylor & Francis, 2019
Based on the identity process model, we investigated developmental differences in moral identity between leaders by analyzing their personal experiences of and reactions to actual moral conflicts at work. Using a longitudinal (16-week) qualitative design, we collected weekly moral conflict stories from ten leaders. First, after an inductive exploratory analysis we found that the leaders showed different levels of awareness (descriptive, reflective, and evaluative) with regard to how far they were able to identify their own role, values, feelings, and behaviors in each moral conflict. Second, after a theory-driven analysis, the integrated model of the micro processes of identity development was found applicable to the moral domain: Assimilation, accommodation, and withdrawal were identifiable from the leaders’ reactions to moral conflicts. In addition, we identified subcategories of defensive, self-protective, and morally courageous responses to the conflicts. Leaders were more likely to use a variety of ways to maintain their existing value framework than to show major changes in their personal values. Thus, a prerequisite for moral identity development seems to be the ability to reflect and evaluate one’s moral framework from multiple viewpoints, as this can lead to more flexibility, and eventually, a readiness for change. ...