Foote discusses identity as a collection of self-conceptions that are confirmed or changed both by other people and by other experiences. The identity we portray is a conscious choice of roles that is also empathetic to another person’s identity in a given situation. Examples of identity and motivated behaviour can be seen everywhere, but the workplace does provide frequent illustrations of the concept, specifically as a member of a department relates to their own department and to others.
An employment identity begins with the hiring process, the act of being named as an employee. A title is given to further identify this new individual to the group: for instance, Operations Specialist. As the individual learns what is expected of him or her, they acquire perceptions of their new identity. However, Operations, as the emergency response team, is an under-respected group within the company. A specific action, such as waking up in the middle of the night to correct an operational failure, is motivated both by the expectations of the individual’s position, as well as the desire to maintain or increase the level of respect attributed to the Operations group. These motives give value to the behaviour, which is otherwise unappreciated and uncompensated. The Operations group also creates competition with other departments, such as assigning the reason for the operational failure to another department. This shows their commitment to identity as dependent on their role within the group, as separately defined from other groups.
Foote, Identification as the Basis for a Theory of Motivation.