Welcome to Authentic Organizations!

Thank you for your interest in learning more about this blog and about authenticity and organizations. By reading (and commenting on!) any of the array of authenticity examples and issues I post about, you can join me and other readers as we consider these questions, and more:

  • What does it mean for an organization to be “authentic”?
  • Why does it matter that an organization be authentic?
  • Which organizations are being authentic, and what are they doing to pursue authenticity?
  • Which organizations are not being authentic, why, and what could they be doing to become more authentic?
  • What should an organization do to become more authentic, or to address a specific authenticity dilemma?
  • What can you and I do, as organization members, as managers, leaders, scholars or practitioners, as persons, to help organizations pursue authenticity?

Why Authentic? Why Organizations?

Authenticity is a concept and a quality that feels both timely and timeless. Striving for authenticity is a powerful way that organizations- and the people in them- can renew, reform or revolutionize what they are about and what they accomplish together.

I focus on organizations (rather than individuals or ‘leaders’) because I believe that organizations are a powerful force in our society —  for good, for bad, for both. I am interested in the authenticity and power of the collective, of people working together. Organizations are powerful because they bring together, coordinate and focus individuals towards a shared goal. “Organizations” include for profit businesses, non-profits, partnerships, small businesses, educational institutions, pretty much anything other than governments.

Authentic Organizations embraces questions about:

  • Authenticity: the process of aligning the organization’s identity, image and actions
  • Organizational Identity: ‘who’ the organization is; the central, distinctive and enduring characteristics that define an organization and give it collective meaning
  • Organizational Image and Reputation: the ways that an organization presents itself to outsiders and the ways that outsiders perceive the organization
  • Action: what the organization does and how it does it
  • Marketing & Branding: how organizations create meaning in order to pursue their goals, the ways that organizations promote themselves and their products, how products reflect “who” the organization is
  • The relationship between the organization and its external community, including and not limited to social responsibility, justice, social change, ethics, corporate citizenship
  • The relationships between the organization and its members and stakeholders, including commitment, identification, loyalty, advocacy, dissidence, and meaning.

If you have any questions, ideas or examples that you think this blog could address, please send me an email at CVHarquail@AuthenticOrganizations.com.

Who is this blog & conversation for?

  • Organization members, managers, leaders, professionals and practitioners who want to play with ideas and think about how to apply them in their own work,
  • Business academics and management scholars who want to create a bridge between the abstract theories and constructs in their research & teaching and real-world organizational examples,
  • Individuals who know a lot about one business domain or industry and want to consider how authenticity is important to their own domain and how authenticity applies across domains and industries, and
  • People who are interested in combining the pursuit of organizational goals (be they for-profit or not for profit) with the pursuit of shared meaning

What can you expect from me?

  • Interesting examples of well-known and not so well known organizations and dilemmas
  • Interesting questions
  • Strong opinions, weakly held and open for revision
  • A feminist, not-wholly capitalist point of view
  • The application of organizational and psychological theory, in a way that is only occasionally pedantic
  • A dose of popular culture and politics

About me

I have a long standing interest in how organizations can contribute to individuals and society while they pursue their missions.

I love to talk with people about the organizations they lead, work with or work in, and I’m always looking for interesting stories and puzzles related to organizations.

I work as an independent consultant and scholar, focusing on questions related to organizational identity, reputation, social media, organizational change, and authenticity. I teach part-time at Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, NJ, in the Howe School of Business.  I teach the year-long capstone, action-learning class (“Sr. Design”) where students experiment with Lean Startup methods to create small businesses or develop consulting skills as they help client organizations adopt new technologies. I have an AB in Political Theory from Bryn Mawr College. Between college and graduate school I worked for several years at Procter & Gamble, in Cincinnati, Ohio. I have my PhD in Leadership & Organizational Behavior from the Ross School of Business at The University of Michigan, where I also taught in the Women’s Studies Program.

I was a professor of Leadership and Organizational Behavior at the Darden Graduate School of Business at the University of Virginia before moving to Montclair, NJ with my family. I continue to teach and speak to MBA & EMBA students, to corporate groups, and to professional & scholarly groups. This fall, I’ll be teaching a business consulting practicum as a capstone class to seniors in the Business and Technology (BS) program at the Howe School at Stevens Institute of Technology.

My academic research addresses organizational identification and identity, branding & the organization, organizational identity & strategy, organizational diversity & inclusion, social media and organizational change. Some of this research is posted elsewhere on this blog, if you are interested in looking at it in more depth.

In addition to my own research, writing and consulting, I also work as a ‘concept shaper’ and developmental editor and help other scholars shape and develop their written work and their research designs. I love helping other scholars untangle their thoughts, clarify their theories and craft compelling stories about their research and findings. I review for several academic journals, including Administrative Science Quarterly , Academy of Management Journal and Academy of Management Review, where I am on the Editorial Board.

I also teach other management scholars about how to use blogging and social media to connect to a practitioner audience and to develop their own leadership voice.

Along with this life of the mind, I enjoy being a parent to two daughters, being married to an internet business CMO, playing Frisbee with my Labradoodle, living in a diverse and liberal community, reading too many magazines, horseback riding and Pilates, and gardening. For a different side of life, check out my “mom blog” www.AuPairMom.com — for host parents who want to have good relationships with their au pairs.

If you have any questions, ideas or examples that you think this blog could address, please send me an email at CVHarquail@AuthenticOrganizations.com.
Follow me on Twitter @cvharquail.


Ronald S Niebauer August 7, 2009 at 3:00 pm

I was just wondering who makes G.S cookies and who makes walmart’s.

mary john August 8, 2009 at 8:13 am

i’m a girl scout and you cookies are one of my favorite things to do in girl scouts. But if you mess with my cookies your in trouble not with just me with all the girl scouts. So don’t mess with my cookies. Unless your buying they don’t mess with them.

look at DQ there paying millons a day to sell girl sout cookie shakes. if walmart want to sell them ask the girl scouts. wal mart just pay the price for the cookies. edys ice cream is doing the same thing as DQ, wal mart why even steal from us little girls. the dasiy are going to cry now that you are doing this.

prof.dr.amir al-koubisy April 8, 2010 at 6:11 am

You’re a great woman, I hope you will be a Mary Parker Follett of the coming decades .
Please consider me as student in your school of thought, although I am 70 years old, with 30 books published in Arabic. I graduated from austin texas un. in 1971. Your ideas and strategies to develop our organizations and to empower them can help to change our life goals.. Humanity deserves our cooperations all over the world ,
best regards and wishes
dean of higher studies -KSA-Riyadh

Donna January 18, 2011 at 3:58 pm

Greetings: I am a doctoral student in GWU’s executive leadership program. This semester, I must craft a dissertation research question and am really struggling to narrow/target my focus. I am interested in how organization’s online (virtual) image is related to the organization’s identity (i.e., innovative, effective, etc.).

Do you have any suggestions for how I might refine this question?

Thank you.

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