Identity Management in an Institution of Higher Education: A Case Study Using Structural Coupling and Fractal Enterprise Model

Ilia Bider, Erik Perjons


There are several ways of defining organizational identity and identity management. This article considers a less exploited one, namely, defining identity as a set of structural couplings that the organization has, and identity management as an activity aimed at maintaining these couplings. The concept of structural coupling comes from biological cybernetics, and it means that a system during its evolution becomes entangled with few other systems. The system at hand evolves together with these systems, adapts to them and causes them to adapt to it. The concept of structural coupling is applied in a study of an institution of higher education. To identify structural couplings, the authors use a so-called Fractal Enterprise Model that presents both internal structure of an organization and its business environment. The article analyzes to which elements of the environment an institution of higher education is structurally coupled and how the identity maintenance is arranged. The article provides examples of how well maintaining identity works in practice based on reflections on the authors' experience of working in the department. The article concludes with suggesting a generic procedure for identifying structural couplings and defining a strategy of maintaining these couplings.


Organizational Identity; Fractal Enterprise Model; FEM; Viable System Model; VSM; Structural Coupling

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DOI: 10.7250/csimq.2021-27.03


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