Making sense of the sensemaking perspective: Its constituents, limitations, and opportunities for further development

Published on Feb 1, 2015in Journal of Organizational Behavior5
· DOI :10.1002/job.1937
Jörgen Sandberg22
Estimated H-index: 22
(UQ: University of Queensland),
Haridimos Tsoukas41
Estimated H-index: 41
(UCY: University of Cyprus)
Through a wide-ranging critical review of relevant publications, we explore and articulate what constitutes the sensemaking perspective in organization studies, as well as its range of applications and limitations. More specifically, we argue that sensemaking in organizations has been seen as consisting of specific episodes, is triggered by ambiguous events, occurs through specific processes, generates specific outcomes, and is influenced by several situational factors. Furthermore, we clarify the application range of the sensemaking perspective and identify, as well as account for, the types and aspects of organizational sensemaking that have been under-researched. We critically discuss the criticism that the sensemaking perspective has received so far and selectively expand on it. Finally, we identify the main limitations of the sensemaking perspective, which, if tackled, will advance it: the neglect of prospective sensemaking, the exclusive focus on disruptive episodes at the expense of more mundane forms of sensemaking implicated in routine activities, the ambiguous status of enactment, the conflation of first-order and second-order sensemaking, and the lack of proper attention to embodied sensemaking. Copyright © 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
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