The Pragmatic Identity Matching Research

The Pragmatic Identity Matching Concept according to Dr. Markus Erbach* (see annotation column) has been developed 2004-2011 in the dissertation "Identity Matching - inhaltliche Integration in der strategischen Kommunikation" (Identity Matching - content integration in strategic communication). Since 2005 the Identity Matching Concept has been successfully applied in several organisations and companies, since 2011 it has been refined with other researchers.

The following description of Pragmatic Identity Matching is based on the Identity Matching Executive Summary of Dr. Markus Erbach from November 2013:

Pragmatic Identity Matching according to Erbach*

Summary: Pragmatic Identity Matching enables the systematic comparison and planned matching of different preconditions and interests. The Pragmatic Identity Matching system and software provide a novel information structure for the impartial integration of content between participants and subjects of communication. Pragmatic Identity Matching is, in essence, a scientific preparation of data that enables integrative thinking and aims at cooperative action: barriers are eliminated or reduced, the ability to act is increased, and solutions are created. The Pragmatic Identity Matching Concept – an information structuring approach that integrates cognition theory with the use of semiotic identity triads – is a transdisciplinary method of research with near-universal applicability.

I. Main elements of Pragmatic Identity Matching

The Pragmatic Identity Matching Concept 

  • applies a universal  identity scheme (“Identity Matrix”) on both sides of a communication
  • impartially compares various contents between communication subjects
  • matches individual contents with one another in a planned manner according to the same scheme.

This concept provides a solution to the fundamental problem  of ”content integration in strategic communication.“ It is also relevant to all other sciences and fields where content is to be communicated in a planned manner. 

The universal applicability of Pragmatic Identity Matching

  • builds on the notion of matching identities in a planned manner
  • derives from the assumption that all living beings, subjects, organizations and events are assumed to have their own “identity.” 

Pragmatic Identity Matching can be understood to incorporate three separate methodologies, or approaches:   

  1. A structural approach to information: Erbach’s identity scheme is founded on a semiotic model that developed the “Identity Triad” and a “Matrix for Identity Matching” for the structured description and systematic matching of two identities (or subjects of communication) based on the so-called “triadic sign relation” according to Charles Peirce (1839-1914).
  2. A theory of cognition and philosophy: the semiotic triad forms the basis of an Identity Triad, which, in the Erbach Identity Matching Concept, corresponds with the phases of psychology of action (recognizing, assessing, acting). Used as a system to gain knowledge in relation to a counterpart, it unlocks new potentials and opportunities for action.
  3. An IT-based approach: the triadic systems enable the interest-driven expansion of information at any point via the system-inherent fractionalization process. A web-based multi-user software simplifies the implementation and management of the identity matching process.


From a scientific point of view, the Pragmatic Identity Matching Concept can be described as a

  1. theory to gain new knowledge (heuristics) due to the cross-linking of specifically structured content modules, and as an
  2. approach based on structural sciences (auxiliary sciences), which is available to other scientific disciplines and fields for the planned integration and specific imparting of knowledge about the subject matter. 

The digital knowledge archive of the Identity Matching software combines all inwardly and outwardly directed development stages and the related processes of an identity (i.e. product, organization, subject, content, etc.) as a subject of communication in relation to a counterpart (i.e. market, competitor, target groups, etc.). It integrates expert knowledge and crowd thinking in the information structure of the “Matrix for Identity Matching.”

The Pragmatic Identity Matching Concept leads to a sustained improvement in the relationships between the acting individuals/entities by making optimal use of available resources and expanding joint opportunities for action. This is achieved by

  • eliminating the bias of an individual’s position, because the individual or group is now able to consider other perspectives in a transparent manner,
  • establishing a symmetry of communication, because the individual is able to have a clear perception of the counterpart’s environment and related interests, and
  • enhancing individual depth and authenticity, because all offers of communication can be clearly presented to one another and perceived to  a much greater extent.

The successful linking and combination of existing knowledge is the result of 

  • the elimination of barriers, new information and perceptions, as well as the development of joint solutions and synergies,
  • the systematically planned combination and structured matching of completely different issues, events, objects, living beings, cultures, communication participants, preconditions, interests, ideas, concepts, visions, etc., enabled by the application of identity triads, and
  • the generally unlimited degree of participation by the acting entities due to the web-based multi-user interface and the use of existing knowledge.

Precondition: 

  • Working with the Pragmatic Identity Matching Concept requires the acting entities to be willing to cooperate and implement the acquired knowledge and solutions.  

Exceptional benefit:

  • In contrast to content-oriented approaches, the information structure-based approach provides the benefit of an impartial comparison of different needs, thus rendering them negotiable.

In the application process of Pragmatic Identity Matching, each new perspective gained aims to systematically plan or improve existing complex conditions and situations. A set of proven instruments and methods is available to achieve this goal.  

II. Range of Pragmatic Identity Matching applications

The universal Pragmatic Identity Matching Concept is applicable to any setting where the planned integration of contents is promising or desirable – from holistic integration and agreement processes to individual relationships within groups and between members:

  1. in political and intercultural contexts
  2. in economic and ecological contexts
  3. in scientific contexts


The following are examples of possible applications:

1. Potential use of Pragmatic Identity Matching in an economic setting

  • development of commercial identities directed at specific markets and target groups (corporate and brand identity; product and brand development; innovations)
  • planned orientation and mapping of corporations, organizations etc. in relation to a counterpart (market, competitor, society, stakeholders, target groups)
  • strategic communication directed at specific target groups (information and advertising campaigns, offers by political parties, corporations, organizations)
  • goal-oriented development, control and optimization of organizational and process structures (integrated manufacturing, optimization of internal processes, etc.)
  • development of learning systems and knowledge bases for specific target groups (academic program development, interest-based cross-linking of knowledge, etc.)

2. Potential use of Pragmatic Identity Matching in a scientific setting

  • structuring of research fields (intradisciplinary)
  • connecting of research fields (interdisciplinary); cooperation
  • integration of research and practical implementation
  • knowledge management, intradisciplinary and interdisciplinary
  • quality management in research and teaching
  • marketing of research findings 

3. Potential use of Pragmatic Identity Matching in a political-intercultural setting 

  • development of citizen-oriented communications by public authorities
  • participation programs to address politically relevant issues
  • mediation between parties bearing different beliefs and interests
  • (inter-)national integration programs for multi-cultural (marginal) groups  
  • moderation and appeasement (national and international relations)
  • alignment of different preconditions (legal systems, infrastructures)

III. Further Pragmatic Identity Matching development

Leveraging the full range and efficacy of the Pragmatic Identity Matching Concept will require involvement at three different implementation levels. The goal of Pragmatic Identity Matching funding is to advance, establish and communicate the existing Pragmatic Identity Matching Concept under the auspices of a research institute, a copyright collecting society and a foundation to provide Pragmatic Identity Matching as an instrument for integrative thinking and cooperative action as common knowledge for any purpose, which seeks to match identities or content in a sustainably planned manner.