Session 35

Sensemaking and Sensegiving

Track B

Date: Thursday, March 18, 2010


Time: 15:15 – 16:45


Room: Kokoustila 2

Session Chair:

Title: Reversal of Strategic Change


  • Saku Mantere, McGill University
  • Henri Schildt, Hanken School of Economics
  • John Sillince, Newcastle University

Abstract: This paper elaborates a failed managerial effort to reverse a strategic change process. Our longitudinal ethnographic study documents a planned merger and the unsuccessful attempt of the top managers to return to their pre-merger strategy once external events led to its cancellation. Focusing on organizational identification, we trace the failure to contradictions in managerial sensegiving. We highlight the role of organizational sensebreaking, the discrediting of the prevailing organizational interpretive scheme in order to facilitate employee re-identification with a new one. More broadly, we find organizational sensebreaking and sensegiving to leave residuals in the organization, affecting future managerial sensegiving endeavors.

Title: Sense-making as the Basis for Doing the Corporate Brand - A Practice Perspective


  • Rita Järventie-Thesleff, Aalto University
  • Johanna Moisander, Aalto University

Abstract: The paper presents findings from an empirical study that illustrates a practice-based theoretical approach to corporate branding. The implementation of the corporate brand is conceptualized as a stream of sense-making and sense-giving activities influencing the way the collective organizational knowledge of 'doing' the corporate brand evolves over time. Our study attempts to make two main contributions. First, it contributes to the contemporary research on corporate branding by shedding light on the generative mechanisms and inherent practices that influence the successful implementation of the corporate brand. Second, it draws upon and extends the sense-making tradition to open up the process of corporate branding and to theoretically elaborate and empirically illustrate the sense-making practices that may either broaden or reduce the scope of doing the corporate brand.

Title: Senseshaping in Strategy: A Video Ethnography of Retrospective Strategising


  • Richard Whittington, University of Oxford
  • Curtis LeBaron, Brigham Young University

Abstract: This paper investigates the use of material artefacts in the making of strategy. It proposes the concept of 'senseshaping' in order to highlight the importance of such artefacts (shapes) in making and communnicating strategy. In particular, it draws on a video ethnography of senior managers using the shapes on a whiteboard for strategic sensemaking and sensegiving during an exercise in retrospective strategising. The paper proposes three roles for senseshaping and tracks how senseshaping may evolve over the course of a strategic episode, particularly in terms of the mutuality of interaction and the mutability of shapes. Finally, the paper proposes particular challenges and resources entailed in effective senseshaping.

Title: Strategy On the Couch : The Role of Organisational Self-concept in Strategic Innovation


  • Kevin Johnston, Liverpool John Moores University

Abstract: This paper explores the concepts of cognitive schema, self-reflexive identity and locus of control in human and organisational contexts. A poor self-concept and external locus of control in a human being constrains personal growth and limits life choices. An organisational self-concept that is too rigidly defined produces a cognitive constraint which reduces the generative potency of strategy formulation. This paper advances a conceptual construct and typology for this cognitive dysfunction in organisations. Approaches to loosening cognitive rigidities are explored as a basis for mitigating the resultant path dependence and thus increase the "degrees of freedom" for strategic innovation and renewal. The paper suggests that this can be achieved by adopting a self-concept grounded in systems theory.

All Sessions in Track B...

Thu: 13:15 – 14:45
Session 34: Competitive Cognitive Dynamics
Thu: 15:15 – 16:45
Session 35: Sensemaking and Sensegiving
Thu: 17:00 – 18:30
Session 32: Metaphors and Minds
Fri: 10:15 – 11:45
Session 36: Cognition and Capabilities
Fri: 13:15 – 14:45
Session 43: The Role of Top Management in Strategizing

Strategic Management Society