Sensemaking in Crisis and Change: Inspiration and Insights From Weick

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Author: Maitlis, S. & Sonenshein, S.

Title: Sensemaking in crisis and change: Inspiration and insights from Weick (1988)

Year of Publication: 2010

Journal: Journal of Management Studies

Volume: 47 Issue: 3


Keywords: business, change, crisis, gestalt switch, management, organization, qualitative, theory oriented

Abstract: When Karl Weick's seminal article, ‘Enacted Sensemaking in Crisis Situations’, was published in 1988, it caused the field to think very differently about how crises unfold in organizations, and how emergent crises might be more quickly curtailed. More than 20 years later, we offer insights inspired by the central ideas in that article. Beginning with an exploration of key sensemaking studies in the crisis and change literatures, we reflect on lessons learned about sensemaking in turbulent conditions since Weick (1988), and argue for two core themes that underlie sensemaking in such contexts: shared meanings and emotion. We examine when and how shared meanings and emotion are more and less likely to enable more helpful, or adaptive, sensemaking, and conclude with some suggestions for future research in the sensemaking field.