Social Identity Theory: Explaining Operation and Effectiveness at NBC

Social Identity Theory: Explaining Operation and Effectiveness at NBC


The Social Identity Theory ultimately explains that a person perceives themselves based on their group membership. The group that an individual belongs in largely attributes to that individual’s level of pride and self-esteem. This is our way of finding a sense of belonging in the larger world. In turn, people will work to enhance the status of their own groups to raise their own self-esteem and worth. That is the root of nationalism and why US citizens believe America is the best country. That is the root to NBC workers naming NBC the best entertainment/media company.

I have recognized the Social Identity Theory consistently throughout my internship. I think, strategically, leaders administer this theory to draw a sense of passion from their workers. Particularly at a large company, where you don’t have direct control over each individual because there are far too many, this theory works wonders. It helps when your company is considered one of the top three Broadcasting corporations. So, each manager and exec that I have witnessed at NBC has emphasized this ranking. As a result, most NBC employees would proclaim that NBC is better than ABC, FOX, and CNN, to name a few, despite actual statistics. But even when this may seem aggressive or extreme, the application of the Social Identity Theory to this regard, has an undeniable impact.

From the experiences I have had, there is a commitment to work and loyalty to company that I have never experiences anywhere else, thus far. Similarly to a sports team, NBC employees are dedicated and directly associate company success with their own. This may be due in part to the incredibly competitive nature of the entertainment industry, especially being one of the top three.

Also due to the competitive nature of this industry, there arises problems. With the immense desire to raise one’s own status, they must lower someone else’s. Social Identity Theory asserts that the in-group will then discriminate against outer groups. For NBC, this means employees tend to talk poorly about ABC, FOX, and CNN. This becomes problematic when NBC workers fail to admit the successes of such companies and miss opportunity to learn from or live up to their successes. Consequently, NBC falls behind. I’ve noticed that NBC leaders make a conscious effort to remind their workers not to oblige to this tendency. Still, Social Identity Theory largely characterizes the operation and effectiveness within and amongst NBCUniversal.