Workshop Series: Alan Meyer
Establishing a distinctive identity for one's geographic region is a time-honored undertaking, ranging from the recent creation of Silicon Valley in California, and harking back to King Nebakanezer's Hanging Gardens of Babylon. My colleagues and I studied the rise, fall, and remarkable resurrection of Eugene Oregon's identity as "Track Town USA". Beginning with the puzzle of how actors resurrected a dormant collective identity after decades of decline, we developed a process model proposing that informal groups, local organizations, and regional populations can join forces to recover the traditions and sense of élan tied to a cherished identity - and leverage this revitalized identity to stimulate new economic activity and restore members' pride. Our model draws attention to people that we call "identity custodians" who marshal intangible resources to generate events that elicit powerful emotions by authentically reproducing the faded identity. In emphasizing grassroots human experience, powerful emotions, and fidelity to tradition, our model stands in sharp contrast to prior work that has often regarded identity as a formal leader's top-down, calculated, cognitive accomplishment.
Alan Meyer is the Charles H. Lundquist Emeritus Professor at the University of Oregon. Using organizational theory and sociology as theoretical frames, hestudies industry emergence, corporate venturing, and technology entrepreneurship. He is a field researcher who triangulates between archival data and primary data gathered through interviews and naturalistic observation. Alan has been a continuous National Science Foundation grantee since 1999. He is a Fellow of the Academy of Management, he served as the founding chair of the Managerial and Organizational Cognition Division, and he chaired the Organization and Management Theory Division. Alan has served as Consulting Editor for AMJ and as Associate Editor-in-Chief for Organization Science, and on the editorial boards of Administrative Science Quarterly, the Academy of Management Journal, the Academy of Management Annals, and Strategic Management Journal.