Research informing

Title – Only Connect: 20 years of the Social Identity Approach to Psychology in Organizations


Abstract – It is 20 years since the breadth of organization research informing the Social Identity Approach was first reviewed in my book Psychology in Organizations. Since that time, interest in the approach has boomed — to the point where its scope and depth is now almost impossible to chart. Nevertheless, this talk attempts to do this. Alongside a survey of key developments, it does so by focusing on three key topics that are the focus for symposia and workshops elsewhere in the conference: leadership, organizational change, andfollowership. Research shows that social identity is central to all these phenomena and hence can provide a platform for a range of positive organizational outcomes. However, at the same time, it also highlights the ways in which toxic identities (and the identity leadership and engaged followership that support them) can also have problematic consequences for organizations and their members. These considerations lead to a call for greater attention to the links between social identity and health, and to the forms of identity leadership that sustain healthy organizations. The practical implications of the analysis are also brought home by a discussion of 5R — an evidence-based leadership development programme that leverages social identity insights to help leaders build inclusive, effective and flourishing teams.


Bio – Alex Haslam is Professor of Psychology and Australian Laureate Fellow (2012-18) at the University of Queensland. His research focuses on the study of leadership, group, and identity processes in organizational and health contexts. Together with over 300 co-authors around the world, Alex has published over 250 peer-reviewed articles on these topics and written and edited 15 books — including most recently, The New Psychology of Health: Unlocking the Social Cure (Routledge, 2018, with Catherine Haslam, Jolanda Jetten, Tegan Cruwys and Genevieve Dingle; winner of the British Psychology Society’s Book of the Year in 2020) and The New Psychology of Leadership (2nd ed, Routledge, 2020, with Steve Reicher and Michael Platow; winner of the International Leadership Association’s Book of the Year in 2014) and Together Apart: The Psychology of COVID-19 (Sage, 2020, with Jolanda Jetten, Steve Reicher and Tegan Cruwys). Alex has been awarded the European Association of Social Psychology’s Kurt Lewin Medal for outstanding scientific contribution, the British Psychology Society Presidents’ Award for distinguished contributions to psychological knowledge, the International Society for Political Psychology’s Sanford Prize for distinguished contributions to political psychology, the Australian Psychological Society’s Workplace Excellence Award for Leadership Development (with Nik Steffens & Kim Peters), the Society of Personality and Social Psychology’s Wegner Award for Theoretical Innovation, and the Australian Psychological Society’s Award for Distinguished Contribution to Psychological Science. In both 2019 and 2020 he was identified by Clarivate as a highly-cited cross-field researcher (Google Scholar, h=114).