Schema‐Based Sensemaking of the Decision to Participate and its Effects on Job Performance

16 Pages Posted: 12 Apr 2014

Date Written: Spring 2014


This paper describes the development and testing of an iterative framework, based on a situated cognition perspective, for uncovering cognitive schemas that people enact in sensemaking processes. The research investigated the cognitive schemas of 167 employees participating in a call center through the elicitation of interpretations and the justifications for those interpretations. Data were analyzed by using a laddering methodology based on means‐end analysis in order to disclose declarative (i.e., concepts) and procedural (i.e., relations between concepts) knowledge. A cognitive cause map and its main indexes were derived, following principles from social network analysis. The results demonstrate how specific contents of cognitive schemas that arise during sensemaking (e.g., fulfillment) are related to job performance. In addition, the schema connecting skills development to improving career prospects and to personal growth was significant, revealing the prominent influence exerted by procedural knowledge in enacting sensemaking and motivating greater performance.

Keywords: sensemaking, decision to participate, cognitive schemas, means‐end analysis, laddering, job performance

Suggested Citation

Morandin, Gabriele and Bergami, Massimo, Schema‐Based Sensemaking of the Decision to Participate and its Effects on Job Performance (Spring 2014). European Management Review, Vol. 11, Issue 1, pp. 5-20, 2014, Available at SSRN: or

Gabriele Morandin (Contact Author)

University of Bologna ( email )

Via Capo di Lucca, 34
Bologna, BO 40126
+39 051 2098416 (Phone)
+39 051 2098074 (Fax)


Massimo Bergami

University of Bologna

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