Identity positioning for trust : a narrative analysis on consultant identity construction

Cornelissen, Laurenz Aldu (2013-03)

Thesis (MPhil)--Stellenbosch University, 2013.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: This thesis uses narrative analysis to explore the ways by which consultants seek to improve their perceived trustworthiness in initial client-consultant interactions. It is argued that consultants rely on identity-based trust perceptions by the clients and that this basis for trust can be favourably presented, within certain constraints, through narrative positioning. This narrative positioning, in the service of identity construction, is called identity positioning in the thesis. The thesis is situated in the literature on management consulting aimed at micro-level high-contact client-consultant interactions. These kinds of interactions trade on trust and identity. The various bases for trust are described, namely identity, structural, and dispositional based trust. Amongst these three bases, identity trust is highlighted as the most dominant in the context of clientconsultant interactions, especially in initial interactions where the consultant is unknown to the participants. It is to be expected in initial interactions that there will be a lot of scope for identity construction. A framework is then developed to relate identity construction and trust, which can be used as the basis for narrative positioning analysis. The framework consists of two dimensions along which identities can be positioned: social obligations and relational positioning latitude. It is argued that dispositional trust relates to relational positioning latitude, whereas structural bases of trust relates to social obligations. Identity based trust therefore indicates where the consultant fits within the structural or dispositional bases of trust. It is then shown how context moderates which of the trust bases will be dominant, and how this might manifest in the narrative of the consultant. It provides three general contexts, each leading to the emergence of a particular dominant basis for trustworthiness perceptions by the clients. The particular case analysed in this thesis correlates to a specific contexts within the framework. This context is where the consultant is unknown. The last part of the thesis illustrates the use of the framework and context as it guides the analysis of a particular consultant’s personal narrative during an initial interaction with clients. The analysis is then repeated for the consultant's software product narrative. The structures of the two narratives are then compared to show how the consultant also attempted to extend the identity-based trust to his software product.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Hierdie tesis maak gebruik van narratiewe analise om die maniere te verken waarop konsultante die persepsies van hul betroubaarheid probeer verbeter in die aanvang fase van kliënt-konsultant interaksies. Daar word aangevoer dat konsultante staatmaak op identiteit-gebaseerde vertroue persepsies deur die kliënte en dat dié basis van vertroue gunstig aangebied kan word, binne sekere beperkings, deur middel van narratiewe posisionering. Hierdie narratiewe plasing, wat in die diens van die konstruksie van identiteit is, word identiteit posisionering genoem in die tesis. Die tesis is geleë in die literatuur oor bestuurs konsultering met die oogmerk op mikrovlak hoëkontak kliënt-konsultant interaksies. Hierdie soort interaksies handel in vertroue en identiteit. Die verskillende basisse vir vertroue word beskryf, naamlik identiteit, strukturele, en disposisionele gebaseerde vertroue. Onder hierdie drie basisse, word identiteit gebaseerde vertroue as die mees dominante in die konteks van die kliënt-konsultant interaksies uitgelig, veral in die eerste interaksies waar die konsultant onbekend is aan die deelnemers. Dit is verwag, in die aanvangs fase van sulke interaksies, dat daar baie ruimte vir die konstruksie van identiteit is. 'n Raamwerk word dan ontwikkel om die konstruksie van identiteit en vertroue in verband te bring, wat dan kan gebruik word as die basis vir die analise van narratiewe posisionering. Die raamwerk bestaan uit twee dimensies waarlangs identiteite kan geplaas word: sosiale verpligtinge en relasionele posisionering omvang. Daar word aangevoer dat disposisionele vertroue betrekking het tot relasionele posisionering omvang, terwyl die strukturele basis van vertroue verband hou met sosiale verpligtinge. Identiteit gebaseerde vertroue dui dus waar die konsultant pas binne die strukturele of disposisionele basisse van die trust. Daar word dan getoon hoe konteks modereer welke van die vertroue basisse oorheersend sal wees, en hoe hierdie kan manifesteer in die narratief van die konsultant. Dit bied drie algemene kontekste, wat elk lei tot die opkoms van 'n bepaalde dominante basis vir betroubaarheid persepsies deur die kliënte. Die besondere geval geanaliseer in die tesis korreleer met 'n spesifieke kontekste binne die raamwerk. Hierdie konteks is waar die konsultant onbekend is aan die kliënte. Die laaste deel van die tesis illustreer die gebruik van die raamwerk en konteks waar dit die ontleding van 'n spesifieke konsultant se persoonlike narratief tydens 'n aanvanklike interaksie met kliënte lei. Die analise word dan vir die konsultant se sagteware produk narratief herhaal. Die strukture van die twee verhale word dan vergelyk om te wys hoe die konsultant ook probeer het om die identiteit-gebaseerde vertroue uit te brei na sy sagteware produk.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/80067
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