With the increasing flourish and expansion of the multinational corporations and global commerce, the connection and integration among different nations become tighter and more frequent than before. This new trend is irresistible with infinite and great attraction for many organizations and individuals who are trapped in searching an outlet. Actually, the opportunity and challenge coexist and interact in the whole commercial system. For advantages, it brings all closely related sectors together so as to optimize the application and allocation of materials and facilities for ultimate purpose of reducing cost. While for disadvantages, the inequality and unjust competition will result into violence and collapse in marketing which does harm to the whole society. Therefore, a sound environment for a smooth and sustainable globalization, especially in business and commercial practice, is desperately appealed and required for the moment. After the six-week lecturing of simulation of a socially innovative enterprise, it is the institutional and individual identity the theory of dynamic system thinking that play the vital and fundamental role for the success of a business or an enterprise. Considering this, this article will focus on two theories of the identity and system thinking to analyze their importance and appropriate applications in enterprise’s commercial practice by evaluating a newspaper report titled by Out of Africa, Problems for Zambezi Resources.
2.1 Understanding of Identity
Identity Theory initiated and developed by Stryker (1955) depends on Mead’s (1934) symbolic interaction framework whose focus is on the influence running from society to self-behavior. However, Stryker’s (1980) Identity Theory put emphasis on the significance of social roles and identities where these roles are basing on. According to the core values of Identity Theory, society functions as social interaction via role commitments. Role commitments define the individual in terms of identities. Role identity is a fundamental part of the self-concept and self value. Therefore, commitment to the social expectations defining role-positions is an effective access to shapes the self which influences behavior. According to the work of Thoits and Virshup (1997), along with more recently Burke and Stets (2009), Gecas (2008) has suggested that social-psychology needs to allow for more conceptualizations and identification of identity and that values are the best means to form value-identities. It is clear that only the interaction among the three elements is constant and smooth will the great success can be achieved.
In order to get an overall and deep understanding of the identity, it is necessary to realize the different phrases of the representation of identity. Generally, it includes four phases: in the first level, people have an awareness of themselves and how they are different and similar to others in terms of describing some apparent physical and personal characteristics and personal preferences. In the second phase, people can understand that there are a multitude of factors that contribute to a person’s identity and they start to be aware of the qualities, ability, character and characteristics which turn out make up their own identity. During the third phase, people understand that a person’s identity is shaped by a variety of factors and make sense of the evolution and change of the identity over time. In the last phase, people tend to understand that the physical changes they will experience at different stages in their lives inevitably affect their evolving identities.
Broadly classified, the identity can be mainly divided into individual identity from the perspective of psychology and organizational identity from the perspective of sociology. Most psychologists commonly prefer to use the term “identity” to describe personal identity, or idiosyncratic things for this is natural and proper to make a person unique and distinct. On the contrary, sociologists have the favor of using them to describe social identity, or the collection of group memberships to give a definition of the individual differing from others. However, these uses are not proprietary and satisfactory in that each discipline may use either concept or just simply combine both concepts when a person’s identity involved. Since the boundary between is ambiguous and the two concepts mutual overlap in some occasions, a third new concept has been created from the both perspectives of psychology and sociology which has a specialized name of social psychology.
2.2 Understanding of system thinking
Dating back to the primal emergence, the system thinking can be probably adopted in philosophical domain, one of whose dialectical concept – all entities in the objective world interlink and interact all the time is perfectly similar to the system thinking. Philosophically, system thinking has its firm and persuasive foundation in the field of philosophy dynamics, found in 1956 by MIT professor Jay Forrester. System thinking does well in helping individuals improve their understanding of social systems explicit. It’s important and necessary to keep in mind that the term “systems thinking” can mean different things to different people. However, for all of us, the discipline of systems thinking is not just a collection of practical tools and methods—it primarily and essentially inherits philosophical ideas and tenets, on which people depend to recognize themselves in relation to the surroundings, observing and analyzing others and make judgments and decisions. What’s more, system thinking is also well-known as an effectively diagnostic tool. As in the medical field, effective treatment needs a thorough diagnosis. In this sense, system thinking is a disciplined approach for examining problems more completely and accurately before acting. It allows us to ask better questions and warns us to think a lot before jumping to action or making decision or reaching conclusions. Besides all its roles above all, it is even regarded as a complete mental operational mechanism with different work in different processing stages. System thinking often involves frequent shift from observing events or data, to identifying patterns of behavior over time, with the purpose of exploring and explaining the underlying structures that take control of those events and patterns. Only by understanding and changing structures that are not serving us well (including our mental models and perceptions) can we expand the choices available to us and create more satisfying, long-term solutions to chronic problems.
No matter what you do, the system thinking is advantageous and effective to deal with them. In general, a systems thinking perspective requires much more than ordinary thinking model, whose necessities include curiosity, clarity, compassion, choice, and courage. This approach teaches us to sustainably maintain the willingness to see a situation from all aspects and angles, to automatically recognize that we are interrelated, to acknowledge that there are multiple interventions to a problem, and to champion interventions that may not be popular. This is much more like those classical principles of system thinking proposed by Segen in our lecture.
2.3 The brief introduction of the selected article
Since the two theories are so popular that they have been adopted in a wide range from primal philosophy to current all corners of the world, all the four articles can get a reasonable analysis and satisfactory interpretation from the perspectives of the identity and system thinking. But here involves a best choice with the criteria of the most apparent and closest link between the two theories and the article. Under this standard, I made the ultimate decision to select the political and economic article with the title of Out of Africa, Problems for Zambezi Resources. There is much room fit for the explanation of theories of identity and system thinking. After the analysis, the inspiration form the case will be suggested to the commercial practice since this is our key point for the paper. In the next part, I will focus on the work.
- Theory of identity in the article
- The interaction among identity, behavior and interest
Just as the words of Jenkins (2008) said, “how I identify myself has a bearing on how I define my interests and how I identify others may have a bearing on which interests I pursue.” The direct and effective way to attaint the target and satisfy the interest is practical behaviors and specific actions. The three elements are closely connected and constantly multi-influence in a relatively complete system. As signified in the article, the identity of Colin Barnett varies and is formed in terms of his different interests and intentions through his behaviors in different occasions on the affair of western Australian mining company’s intention to locate at Lower Zambezi National Park. As a premier, it’s Barnett’s duty to officially negotiate and talk with the important government leaders of another country, such as the meeting between him and vice-president of Zambia. While as the delegate of the company, his ask for Zambia to adhere to high standards of mining regulation in Australia is not based on his own attitude or interest but the company’s collective interest. This warns the commercial practice to take the significance of different identities of a staff member or a position into consideration in recruit and company reform.
- The systematical analysis identities for a commercial enterprise
Stryker’s (1980) Identity Theory emphasizes the importance of social roles and identities based on these roles. For a social issue, it’s unavoidable to involve the participation of other related different fields. Like the issue between Australia’s company and Zambia, different voices and stands can be clear to attain. This is the different social roles and interests that force them to do that so as to clarify their different identities. Protesters are mainly composed of ordinary local citizens and some tribal leaders near the assumed site of the company and their resistance is driven by their responsibility of protecting their living environment and responding the national relevant policies. While for the mass media, their mission is to give an objective and unbiased report about the issue whether in general al details. Thus, their identity is relatively pure and simple just for the truth reveal and phenomena description which is different from others. Commercial practice will be better if they can learn a lecture from this to respect different identities for different roles and interests in terms of their various perspectives, proposals, responds, behaviors and interpretations on the same event.
- Theory of system thinking in the article
4.1 Traditional thinking and system thinking
Different from the traditional analysis which focusing on the separating the individual pieces of what is being studied in which the word “analysis” actually comes from the root meaning “to break into constituent parts”. This is a satisfactory reason for the unremitting objection to Australian project in Zambia. At first, the resistance from different parts has formed such a mighty power that nothing can overcome or retreat it. The ultimate compromise of Australia is the outcome of the efforts of all different parts whose unity can not be isolated for the success. From this a manager of a commercial practice should learn to draft a policy or make a decision by considering the opinions or feelings of all different parts because, to some extent they have only one purpose for the same company’s development.
- Senge’s system thinking principles
According to one of Segen’s (1990) system thinking principles which says “dividing an elephant in half dose not produce two small elephants”, the protest for the site choice on the lower Zambezi national park deserves unanimated praise and support all over the world. Known to us, the lower Zambezi is a heaven for tourism and one of the world’s most sensitive ecosystems so as to be especially vulnerable. If the mining company were to be set up to explore the mineral, the chain factories would come into being such as mineral transport, road extend and construction, labors accommodation and consumption and drainage etc. This will do harm to not only the previous tourism but the ordinary, peaceful and harmonious life there. Awakened by the experience, the commercial practice can be successful and efficient to deal with concrete matters relating to actual work in it and establish and adjust measures to real conditions. Some work is appropriate for further subdivision so that efficiency can be attained while some are not, all of which should be on the base of the properties and requirements of the work.
To reach a conclusion, this paper primarily explains two relatively influential theories of identity and system thinking in reference of the information of the lectures and other personal available research. Then it’s my analysis and interpretation of the two theories related to the article of Out of Africa, Problems for Zambezi Resources. Only in this way, the understanding can be deep and thorough which tells us the importance of the integration theories into practice. At the end, the enlightenment for the commercial practice also be exhibited and explained so that the commerce and marketing achieve a sustainable rapid and sound development. The identity theory makes sense of the necessity of company to respect and treat different departments and individuals equally and as a whole and the system thinking tells us to make use of its overall mind and enough insights to tackle problems. Keep in mind all of this and success can gain one fine day.