Kim Elsbach, University of California Davis

The Role of Authenticity in Motivating Collective Identification: Insights from a Study of NASCAR Fans
Kim Elsbach


Winter 2020
Lecture Time: 
Friday, January 17, 2020 - 1:30pm to 3:00pm
Lecture Location: 
R0220 Ross School of Business


The Role of Authenticity in Motivating Collective Identification:

Insights from a Study of NASCAR Fans


Through two studies of fans who identified with the collective known as NASCAR (the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing), I examine why stakeholders identify with collectives that are perceived as only moderately prestigious (given that high prestige has been shown, empirically, to be the primary predictor of collective identification because it enhances identifiers’ self-esteem). Findings indicate that identifiers did not perceive NASCAR to be high in prestige (compared to other similar collectives) and that their identification was predicted, primarily, by “Perceived Opportunity for Authentic Self-Expression” with NASCAR. In addition, across both studies, evidence indicates that “patriotism” – a personal value that was difficult for fans to affirm elsewhere – was the most important value that fans perceived they could “self-express” when interacting with NASCAR. These findings suggest that individuals may identify with moderate prestige collectives because they provide rare opportunities to express values that are part of their authentic selves, and thus, satisfy these individuals’ “needs for authenticity.”

Recording & Additional Notes

Kimberly D. Elsbach (PhD Stanford University) is Professor of Management and Stephen G. Newberry Chair in Leadership at the Graduate School of Management, University of California, Davis. She is also an International Research Fellow at the Center for Corporate Reputation, Oxford University, Editor-in-Chief for Academy of Management Annals, and co-founder and organizer of the Davis Conference on Qualitative Research. Kim's research focuses on perception – specifically how people perceive each other and their organizations. She has studied these perceptual processes in variety of contexts ranging from the California cattle industry, and the National Rifle Association, to Hollywood screenwriters. Her most recent work examines how crying at work affects perceptions of professional women at work and how self-perceptions influence one’s willingness to take ideas in creative collaborations. Address: Graduate School of Management, 540 Alumni Lane, University of California - Davis, Davis, CA 95616; telephone: (530) 752-0910; fax: (530) 752-2924; e-mail: