Towards an processual perspective on sensemaking during organizational change. Studies on organizing - changing - becoming

Date: 16 November 2015

Venue: UAntwerp - Hof Van Liere - F. de Tassiszaal - Prinsstraat 13 - 2450 Antwerp

Time: 10:00 AM

PhD candidate: Alain Guiette

Principal investigator: Prof Koen Vandenbempt

Short description: PhD defence Alain Guiette - Faculty of Applied Economics

How do organizations realize change? This is the all-encompassing question that guides this dissertation.

Management and organization theorizing on the topic of organizational change keeps reiterating that the field’s theories do not work, that the vast majority of change efforts is presumed to fail, and that there is large relevance gap in terms of change theorizing and practice. Practitioners voice similar concerns. In order to advance theoretical and practical understanding of organizational change, this dissertation elaborates on viewing change from a processual perspective, whereby change is constitutive of reality and organizing consists of efforts to temporally arrest the flux of reality into organization.

Doing so, implies taking sensemaking micro-processes seriously, framing organizational reality within the institutional context of predominant logics, and elaborating on the essence of what it means to be human from a phenomenological perspective. Fleshing out a processual perspective on the sensemaking of change entails asking the following questions: How do we conceive the nature of organizing? How do we define change? How is change supposed to be ‘managed’?  What are meaningful questions to address? What vocabulary do organizational scholars and practitioners need to talk meaningfully about change? In terms of theoretical relevance, a first contribution resides in exploring micro-processes of team mental model ‘deep structures’ during change recipient sensemaking.

A second contribution relates to micro-macro debate in the literature of sensemaking and advances understanding of the enactment and impact of dominant institutional logics on micro-processes of sensemaking. More precisely, it is demonstrated how managerialism is interwoven in taken-for-granted enactments of managing change and how this subsequently suppresses reflexive capabilities and agency during sensemaking micro-processes.

A third contribution consists of  advancing a scaffolding for a processual approach on the becoming of change grounded in a more refined phenomenological orientation of sensemaking.