Sensemaking and Emotion in Organizations
Organizational Psychology Review, 3(3): 222-247, 2013
27 Pages Posted: 6 Sep 2013 Last revised: 5 Oct 2013
Date Written: April 11, 2013
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
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