Managing false starts: managerial sensegiving and sensebreaking in response to an interrupted strategic change effort

S. Mantere, H. Schildt, John A.A. Sillince

    Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper

    Abstract

    We examine managerial sensegiving in the context of a false start, a planned strategic change that was cancelled. Based on a longitudinal, ethnographic study of an organizational merger process, we examine an early success in managerial sensegiving to the merger and the subsequent failure in responding to its cancellation. We find that the staff's rejection of managerial sensegiving was connected to the management's previous sensegiving efforts. The managers, faced with employees' ambivalence about change, wanted to facilitate strategic change by discrediting the established strategy. After merger cancellation, the managers failed in convincing the staff to return to a strategy similar to one they had discredited. We highlight organizational cynicism as an outcome of sensegiving failure and discuss the problems of 'organizational sensebreaking', the discrediting of prevailing strategy in order to facilitate change. We find that organizational sensebreaking, by dissolving ambivalence among the staff, also dissolves resilience if unexpected environmental shocks are encountered.
    Original languageEnglish
    Publication statusUnpublished - 2009
    EventAcademy of Management - Chicago, USA
    Duration: 10 Aug 200912 Aug 2009

    Conference

    ConferenceAcademy of Management
    CityChicago, USA
    Period10/08/0912/08/09

    Keywords

    • managerial sensegiving
    • managerial sensebreaking
    • management
    • management communications

    Cite this

    Mantere, S., Schildt, H., & Sillince, J. A. A. (2009). Managing false starts: managerial sensegiving and sensebreaking in response to an interrupted strategic change effort. Paper presented at Academy of Management, Chicago, USA, .