A Bourdieusian Perspective to Identity Work in Strategy Work: Evidence from Sri Lanka’s Coconut Industry


  • T. Nayomi S. De Peiris University of Sri Jayewardenepura, Sri Lanka
  • K.A.S.P. Kaluarachchi University of Colombo, Sri Lank




The purpose of this empirical study is to discuss how the identity work of organisational actors is reflected through their strategy work in an organisational context from the Bourdieusian perspective. Further, based on a case study following the qualitative research approach, the paper also presents empirical evidence from Sri Lanka’s coconut industry on the identity work of organisational actors in their strategy work, which, in turn, contributes to shaping the organisational strategy. The participants in the study were managers representing a cross-section of the organisation. Twenty-six semi-structured interviews were used for the generation of the data for thematic analysis. NVivo12 data management software was used for the data management and the initial coding. It was found that managers are engaged in different identity work, introducing and normalising a new organisational strategy during their strategy work. Further, the behaviour and practices normalised in the selected organisation through managers' strategy work reflected their identity work in defining the other(s). The discussion was based on the theory of practice by Pierre Bourdieu. Accordingly, this research shows how the identity work of new position takers supports shaping the practices linked with a new strategy. Further, their identity work reflected through strategy work is also connected with their individual dispositions (habitus). The discussion extends further to show how individuals’ capital—mainly their cultural capital and social capital—contributes to constructing a new operational strategy in the selected organisational field. As for implications of this study, it highlighted the contribution of the position-takers in shaping the organisation's strategy while engaging in identity work for self and others. Consequently, this study illustrates how organisational actors perform different social-symbolic work (identity work and strategy work) in parallel.

Keywords: Capital, Habitus, Identity Work, Social-Symbolic Work, Strategy Work