Sensemaking, storytelling and the legitimization of elite business careers

Mairi MacLean, Charles Harvey, Robert Chia

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    90 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    This article examines elite business careers through the dual lens of sensemaking and storytelling as recounted in life-history interviews with business leaders. It explores how they make sense of, narrativize and legitimate their experiences of building their careers within and beyond large organizations. The research contribution is twofold. First, we explicate the sensemaking processes embedded within the multifarious stories recorded in life-history interviews, identified as locating, meaning-making and becoming. Second, we contribute to the literature on legitimacy by examining how business leaders use their storytelling as a vehicle for self-legitimization, (re)framing their accounts of their own success and justifying their position to themselves and others. In a world where reputations are hard won but easily lost, business leaders must nurture a life-history narrative which is socially desirable if their careers are to remain on track. This may serve them well through the creative evolution of their organizational journeys.
    LanguageEnglish
    Pages17-40
    Number of pages24
    JournalHuman Relations
    Volume65
    Issue number1
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - Jan 2012

    Fingerprint

    elite
    career
    leader
    Industry
    interview
    reputation
    legitimacy
    narrative
    Lenses
    Legitimization
    Elites
    Sensemaking
    Storytelling
    experience
    Life history
    Life History
    literature

    Keywords

    • sensemaking
    • organisations
    • management
    • elite business careers
    • legitimacy
    • narrative

    Cite this

    MacLean, Mairi ; Harvey, Charles ; Chia, Robert. / Sensemaking, storytelling and the legitimization of elite business careers. In: Human Relations. 2012 ; Vol. 65, No. 1. pp. 17-40.
    @article{e1b387c3e26940fca09ee8507a93cb9b,
    title = "Sensemaking, storytelling and the legitimization of elite business careers",
    abstract = "This article examines elite business careers through the dual lens of sensemaking and storytelling as recounted in life-history interviews with business leaders. It explores how they make sense of, narrativize and legitimate their experiences of building their careers within and beyond large organizations. The research contribution is twofold. First, we explicate the sensemaking processes embedded within the multifarious stories recorded in life-history interviews, identified as locating, meaning-making and becoming. Second, we contribute to the literature on legitimacy by examining how business leaders use their storytelling as a vehicle for self-legitimization, (re)framing their accounts of their own success and justifying their position to themselves and others. In a world where reputations are hard won but easily lost, business leaders must nurture a life-history narrative which is socially desirable if their careers are to remain on track. This may serve them well through the creative evolution of their organizational journeys.",
    keywords = "sensemaking, organisations, management, elite business careers, legitimacy, narrative",
    author = "Mairi MacLean and Charles Harvey and Robert Chia",
    year = "2012",
    month = "1",
    doi = "10.1177/0018726711425616",
    language = "English",
    volume = "65",
    pages = "17--40",
    journal = "Human Relations",
    issn = "0018-7267",
    number = "1",

    }

    Sensemaking, storytelling and the legitimization of elite business careers. / MacLean, Mairi; Harvey, Charles; Chia, Robert.

    In: Human Relations, Vol. 65, No. 1, 01.2012, p. 17-40.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    TY - JOUR

    T1 - Sensemaking, storytelling and the legitimization of elite business careers

    AU - MacLean, Mairi

    AU - Harvey, Charles

    AU - Chia, Robert

    PY - 2012/1

    Y1 - 2012/1

    N2 - This article examines elite business careers through the dual lens of sensemaking and storytelling as recounted in life-history interviews with business leaders. It explores how they make sense of, narrativize and legitimate their experiences of building their careers within and beyond large organizations. The research contribution is twofold. First, we explicate the sensemaking processes embedded within the multifarious stories recorded in life-history interviews, identified as locating, meaning-making and becoming. Second, we contribute to the literature on legitimacy by examining how business leaders use their storytelling as a vehicle for self-legitimization, (re)framing their accounts of their own success and justifying their position to themselves and others. In a world where reputations are hard won but easily lost, business leaders must nurture a life-history narrative which is socially desirable if their careers are to remain on track. This may serve them well through the creative evolution of their organizational journeys.

    AB - This article examines elite business careers through the dual lens of sensemaking and storytelling as recounted in life-history interviews with business leaders. It explores how they make sense of, narrativize and legitimate their experiences of building their careers within and beyond large organizations. The research contribution is twofold. First, we explicate the sensemaking processes embedded within the multifarious stories recorded in life-history interviews, identified as locating, meaning-making and becoming. Second, we contribute to the literature on legitimacy by examining how business leaders use their storytelling as a vehicle for self-legitimization, (re)framing their accounts of their own success and justifying their position to themselves and others. In a world where reputations are hard won but easily lost, business leaders must nurture a life-history narrative which is socially desirable if their careers are to remain on track. This may serve them well through the creative evolution of their organizational journeys.

    KW - sensemaking

    KW - organisations

    KW - management

    KW - elite business careers

    KW - legitimacy

    KW - narrative

    UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=84855554032&partnerID=8YFLogxK

    U2 - 10.1177/0018726711425616

    DO - 10.1177/0018726711425616

    M3 - Article

    VL - 65

    SP - 17

    EP - 40

    JO - Human Relations

    T2 - Human Relations

    JF - Human Relations

    SN - 0018-7267

    IS - 1

    ER -