Sensemaking of Change: Cognition and Strategic Action in Response to Exogenous Shocks in Public Organizations
29 Pages Posted: 11 Aug 2021
Date Written: July 14, 2018
Despite the useful insights it has provided, public administration research on organizational change has important limitations that include, among others, limited theorization of cognitive responses of those involved in change processes, an almost exclusive focus on a single management tier and inadequate research on eastern developing countries. To help address these limitations, this article uses sensemaking perspective to empirically investigate cognition and strategic action of organizational actors at different hierarchical levels in response to a major external shock in a large public-sector organization in Pakistan. The findings indicate that there are systematic differences in sensemaking across different hierarchical levels which impact the outcome of change processes within public organizations. The analysis also indicates that external pressures to change can be used by well-positioned internal stakeholders to advance their own interests, thereby leading to unintended consequences. Policy implications pertaining to management of change processes within public organizations are also discussed.
Keywords: change management, sensemaking
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