In organizations, it is becoming common for employees to define themselves based on the level of their performance. Western scholars have conceptualized it as the performance-based identity, that is, knowledge about oneself as a particular type of performer in a certain achievement setting, together with the personal meanings this self-knowledge holds for the person. The phenomenon of performance-based identity not only challenges the effectiveness of traditional incentives, but also provides a new way of explaining practices by self-recognition shaped by performance. However, the existing research on performance-based identity is based on a specific western organizational background, ignoring the existence of low-performance-based identity and lacking a systematic research framework to guide research. Therefore, this paper aims to introduce performance-based identity into the field of indigenous management research through the localization of the concept of performance-based identity and the establishment of a systematic research framework.
In this regard, based on the basic assumptions of social identity theory on identity construction and guided by the strict definition of performance-based identity, this paper firstly analyzes the performance-based identity phenomenon within indigenous management practices from the perspective of “specific performance level satisfying certain basic motivation of identification”, putting forward the existence and importance of indigenous low-performance-based identity. This paper then proposes a general research logic for performance-based identity based on the integration of social identity theory literature on individual identity and the special characteristics of performance-based identity. On this basis, combined with related topic research and preliminary observations of management phenomena, this paper constructs a performance-based identity research framework from multiple aspects of antecedents, mechanisms and results. Finally, according to the framework, this paper proposes preliminary directions for future research based on the unique Chinese context.
This paper finds that: First, performance-based identity is essentially a kind of self-definition according to performance ranking driven by self-enhancement and uncertainty reduction motivations. The existence of performance-based identity phenomenon does not depend on the level of performance ranking. Second, future research needs to take into account performance-based identity led by different motivations, focusing on their dynamic and static antecedents, their reinforcement, multi-identity networking and threat response mechanisms, as well as their impact on consequences like individual performance, mental health, and organizational behavior.
The theoretical value of this paper is that: First, through confirming the existence and explanatory power of low-performance-based identity, it makes up for the lack of one-sided attention to high-performance-based identity in existing Western background research, helping to conduct full-spectrum extended research of performance-based identity under a rigorous and consistent conceptual consensus. Second, through the establishing of multi-level research framework of performance-based identity, it provides a systematic entry point involving rich topics for the future research of performance-based identity, introducing and promoting the development of research on performance-based identity in the indigenous management field. Regarding management practices, this paper calls on individuals to make good use of their own performance-based identity while not being confined to the single performance-based identity, inspires organization managers to avoid adopting an extremely individualistic performance evaluation system and arrange different types of performers according to work characteristics, and proposes that the development of multi-achievement value could improve group welfare at the social level.