Document Type

Theses, Ph.D


Business and Management.

Publication Details

Submitted in fulfillment of the requirement for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy,Technological University Dublin, June 2023.


Living authentically is widely regarded as a fundamental aspect of the human experience. It is often associated with moral superiority, personal engagement, and well-being. However, the pursuit of authenticity and living as one’s true self within organisational contexts can present a challenge as organisations need to exert control on their employees to achieve their productivity and efficiency goals. As a result, authenticity tends to be misrepresented as conformity, which can be detrimental for individuals who hold devalued identities or who do not fit organisational prescribed selves. Thus, this doctoral research aims to reconceptualise authenticity by incorporating identity management into its framework and focusing on individuals’ subjective experiences of being true to themselves. Moreover, it explores how individuals navigate temporality within their sense of self and the influence of others in crafting their true selves to live authentically.

Through the conduct of three exploratory studies that focus on gender identity, the thesis addresses four research objectives concerned with (1) exploring how individuals process past, present, and future identities to live authentically, (2) examining how individuals engage in identity management to pursue authenticity, (3) exploring how individuals respond to identity opportunities to be their true self, and (4) gaining a deeper understanding of how individuals play with identity to process authenticity. Study 1 consists of a narrative inquiry of transgender transitions on social media while Study 2 focuses on transgender transitions in the workplace. Study 3 consists of an internet-mediated observational study of online discussions around drag culture on the forum platform Reddit.

The findings indicate that individuals craft their true self to live authentically over time and in relation to others by conceptualising their true self as an evolving and interactional self-narrative that is shaped through both identity work and identity play. More specifically, engaging in narrative identity work, tailoring oneself or one’s social environment, and experimenting with improbable and impossible selves were identified as identity management strategies for processing authenticity. The thesis contributes to both authenticity and identity management and offers practical recommendations for organisations in terms of authentic leadership and diversity and inclusivity management.



Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share Alike 4.0 International License.