Making sense of sensemaking

Making sense of sensemaking

Over time, sensemaking became one of the most influential perspectives in the field of management and organization studies. Since its development by Karl Weick (1969, 1993), this perspective has been continuously refined, and it has been a frequent subject of scientific debates within the research community and academic journals such as Organization Studies. In a recent article, Brown, Colville and Pye (2015) contribute to the sensemaking perspective by looking at the key debates and themes within papers published in Organization Studies.

The article can be downloaded here.

Abstract
‘Sensemaking’ is an extraordinarily influential perspective with a substantial following among management and organization scholars interested in how people appropriate and enact their ‘realities’. Organization Studies has been and remains one of the principal outlets for work that seeks either to draw on or to extend our understanding of sensemaking practices in and around organizations. The contribution of this paper is fourfold. First, we review briefly what we understand by sensemaking and some key debates which fracture the field. Second, we attend critically to eight papers published previously in Organization Studies which we discuss in terms of five broad themes: (i) how sense is made through discourse; (ii) the politics from which social forms of sensemaking emerge and the power that is inherent in it; (iii) the intertwined and recursive nature of micro-macro sensemaking processes; (iv) the strong ties which bind sensemaking and identities; and (v) the role of sensemaking processes in decision making and change. Third, while not designed to be a review of extant literature, we discuss these themes with reference to other related work, notably that published in this journal. Finally, we raise for consideration a number of potentially generative topics for further empirical and theory-building research.