Defining and Managing Organisational Identity using Structural Coupling and Fractal Enterprise Model

Ilia Bider
06 September 2021

Saying, such as, “Tell me who your friends are and I'll tell who you are” or “Tell me who your enemy is, and I will tell you who you are” presume that a person's identity could be derived from the person's environment. Can the same be done for organizational identity? According to Patrick Hoverstadt, it can be done by exploiting the  concept of structural coupling that comes from biological cybernetic, more exactly from the works of Maturana and Varela.

Organizational identity can be defined as a set of structural couplings the organization has in the external world, while identity management equals to maintaining these couplings. In the organizational world, an organization can be structurally coupled to markets, partners, customers, or regulators. Using an example from the domain of higher education, we will show how to identify and maintain structural couplings of an organization using a so-called Fractal Enterprise Model for this end.