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Reflexive sensegiving: An open-ended process of influencing the sensemaking of others during organizational change
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Umeå School of Business and Economics (USBE), Business Administration.
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Education.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-8517-0313
2021 (English)In: European Management Journal, ISSN 0263-2373, E-ISSN 1873-5681, Vol. 39, no 4, p. 476-486Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

In this paper, we contribute to the understanding of how managers engage in efforts to influence the sensemaking of others without prescribing a specific redefinition of organizational reality, and doing this while trying to empower their subordinates. Through observations of leadership conferences and interviews, we followed an attempt to establish a new management philosophy in the Swedish police. The aim of the initiative was to facilitate the development of independent co-workers with little or no hierarchical support. The results show how managers utilize reflexivity in sensegiving to facilitate participants’ sensemaking. We suggest the following definition for reflexive sensegiving: a multivocal process aiming to influence how the sensemaking and construction of meaning evolves. Reflexive sensegiving has four distinctive features: open-endedness, low control over cues given, several sources of cues, and the encouragement of complexity and ambiguity. Our contribution, which has conceptual and theoretical consequences, is centred around new outlooks on the content, agent(s), and process of sensegiving.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Elsevier, 2021. Vol. 39, no 4, p. 476-486
Keywords [en]
Sensegiving, Reflexivity, Organizational change, Police organization
National Category
Pedagogy
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-176947DOI: 10.1016/j.emj.2020.10.007ISI: 000686649400009Scopus ID: 2-s2.0-85094978043OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-176947DiVA, id: diva2:1502631
Available from: 2020-11-20 Created: 2020-11-20 Last updated: 2024-07-02Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Influence in sensemaking during change: a study of the Swedish police reform and subsequent change work
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Influence in sensemaking during change: a study of the Swedish police reform and subsequent change work
2022 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Alternative title[sv]
Inflytande i meningsskapande under organisationsförändring : en studie av den svenska polisreformen och efterföljande förändringsarbete
Abstract [en]

This dissertation is based on four articles, and examines efforts of influence in processes of sensemaking during, and subsequent to, the Swedish police reform. Sensemaking – a process where individuals work to understand what is going on when they encounter confusing events – is of central importance for how organizational change unfolds. Influence in sensemaking refers to activities with capacity to shape persons preferences and perceptions, as they try to make sense. In this dissertation, the overall purpose is to increase the understanding about influence in sensemaking during micro-processes of change. The research questions address how efforts of influence in sensemaking at different organizational levels can be understood, and by which means actors attempt to influence others sensemaking. The research applies sensemaking and sensegiving as its theoretical framework. With a qualitative approach, and ethnographic methods, influence in sensemaking is examined on four levels: Article 1 examines how the strategic level of reform promote change through visual media. The results show how 44 videos function to layer meaning and construct stereotypes in attempts to influence how the sensemaking of change would take place. Article 2 reports an ethnography of middle-managers involving employees in a multivocal process that aims to influence how sensemaking evolves. This process has four features: open-endedness, low control over cues given, several sources of cues, and the encouragement of complexity and ambiguity. Article 3 studies employees working as ‘change’ agents at employee conferences. Results show that these actors exert influence in three ways: drawing on positional power, acting powerless, and by attempts to give power away. Article 4 reports an ethnography of employees enacting a change initiative. The results show how employees’ various enactments involve episodic power, which influence the sensemaking process to varying degrees and towards diverse ends. Overall, the results from the articles outlines three understandings of influence in sensemaking: top-down efforts, reflexive interactions and responsive enactments – each with particular consequences for who can take part in processes of sensemaking, organizing, and change work, when and how. For organizations, the results imply a need for managers and employees to raise awareness of others as well as one’s own influence in sensemaking, as it shapes the way they make sense of, understand, and enact organizational change. In a larger perspective, this has significance for which forms of organizing are stimulated to develop – democratic or undemocratic.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Umeå universitet, 2022. p. 116
Series
Studier i företagsekonomi. Serie B, ISSN 0346-8291 ; 108
Keywords
police reform, organizational change, employee influence, sensemaking, sensegiving, employee-driven development, episodic power
National Category
Business Administration
Research subject
Business Studies
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-200592 (URN)978-91-7855-895-7 (ISBN)978-91-7855-896-4 (ISBN)
Public defence
2022-11-18, Hörsal SAM.A.230 (S213), Samhällsvetarhuset, Universitetstorget 4, 901 87, Umeå, 10:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2022-10-28 Created: 2022-10-25 Last updated: 2024-07-02Bibliographically approved

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Kihlberg, RobertLindberg, Ola

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