Sensemaking and Emotion in Organizations

Organizational Psychology Review, 3(3): 222-247, 2013

Vanderbilt Owen Graduate School of Management Research Paper No. 2320863

27 Pages Posted: 6 Sep 2013 Last revised: 5 Oct 2013

See all articles by Sally Maitlis

Sally Maitlis

University of British Columbia (UBC) - Sauder School of Business

Timothy J. Vogus

Vanderbilt University - Organizational Behavior

Thomas B. Lawrence

Simon Fraser University

Date Written: April 11, 2013

Abstract

Emotion is a critical but relatively unexplored dimension of sensemaking in organizations. Existing models of sensemaking tend to ignore the role of emotion or portray it as an impediment. To address this problem, we explore the role that felt emotion plays in three stages of individual sensemaking in organizations. First, we examine emotion’s role in mediating the relationship between unexpected events and the onset of sensemaking processes. We argue that emotion signals the need for and provides the energy that fuels sensemaking, and that different kinds of emotions are more and less likely to play these roles. Second, we explore the role of emotion in shaping sensemaking processes, focusing on how emotions make sensemaking a more solitary or more interpersonal process, and a more generative or more integrative process. Third, we argue that sensemakers’ felt emotion plays an important role in concluding sensemaking, particularly through its effect on the plausibility of sensemaking accounts.

Keywords: sensemaking, emotion, meaning, accounts

Suggested Citation

Maitlis, Sally and Vogus, Timothy J. and Lawrence, Thomas B., Sensemaking and Emotion in Organizations (April 11, 2013). Organizational Psychology Review, 3(3): 222-247, 2013 , Vanderbilt Owen Graduate School of Management Research Paper No. 2320863, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2320863

Sally Maitlis (Contact Author)

University of British Columbia (UBC) - Sauder School of Business ( email )

2053 Main Mall
Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z2
Canada

Timothy J. Vogus

Vanderbilt University - Organizational Behavior ( email )

Nashville, TN 37203
United States

Thomas B. Lawrence

Simon Fraser University ( email )

8888 University Drive
Burnaby, British Colombia V5A 1S6
Canada

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Downloads
103
Abstract Views
666
rank
306,769
PlumX Metrics