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Sensemaking in Crisis and Change: Inspiration and Insights From Weick (1988)


  • Sally Maitlis
  • Scott Sonenshein


When Karl Weick's seminal article, 'Enacted Sensemaking in Crisis Situations', was published in 1988, it caused the field to think very differently about how crises unfold in organizations, and how emergent crises might be more quickly curtailed. More than 20 years later, we offer insights inspired by the central ideas in that article. Beginning with an exploration of key sensemaking studies in the crisis and change literatures, we reflect on lessons learned about sensemaking in turbulent conditions since Weick (1988), and argue for two core themes that underlie sensemaking in such contexts: shared meanings and emotion. We examine when and how shared meanings and emotion are more and less likely to enable more helpful, or adaptive, sensemaking, and conclude with some suggestions for future research in the sensemaking field. Copyright (c) 2010 The Authors. Journal compilation (c) 2010 Blackwell Publishing Ltd and Society for the Advancement of Management Studies.

Suggested Citation

  • Sally Maitlis & Scott Sonenshein, 2010. "Sensemaking in Crisis and Change: Inspiration and Insights From Weick (1988)," Journal of Management Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 47(3), pages 551-580, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:jomstd:v:47:y:2010:i:3:p:551-580

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    Cited by:

    1. Djaballah, Mathieu & Hautbois, Christopher & Desbordes, Michel, 2017. "Sponsors’ CSR strategies in sport: A sensemaking approach of corporations established in France," Sport Management Review, Elsevier, pages 211-225.
    2. Schreurs, Bert & van Emmerik, IJ. Hetty & Guenter, Hannes & Germeys, Filip, 2011. "A Weekly Diary Study on the Buffering Role of Social Support in the Relationship between Job Insecurity and Employee Performance," Working Papers 2011/27, Hogeschool-Universiteit Brussel, Faculteit Economie en Management.
    3. repec:spr:busres:v:10:y:2017:i:1:d:10.1007_s40685-016-0041-8 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Guiette, Alain & Vandenbempt, Koen, 2013. "Exploring team mental model dynamics during strategic change implementation in professional service organizations. A sensemaking perspective," European Management Journal, Elsevier, pages 728-744.
    5. David Johnson & Adam J. Bock, 2017. "Coping with uncertainty: entrepreneurial sensemaking in regenerative medicine venturing," The Journal of Technology Transfer, Springer, vol. 42(1), pages 33-58, February.
    6. Al-Karim Samnani, 2013. "The Early Stages of Workplace Bullying and How It Becomes Prolonged: The Role of Culture in Predicting Target Responses," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, pages 119-132.
    7. Loréa Hireche Baiada & Lionel Garreau, 2014. "Exploring the dynamics of ethical judgment: The Sensemaking-Based Evolution Model," Post-Print halshs-01009708, HAL.
    8. Lionel Garreau & Serge Perrot, 2012. "Comprendre la dynamique de la socialisation organisationnelle: Une approche par le sensemaking," Post-Print halshs-00949067, HAL.
    9. Genevieve Musca & Marie Perez & Linda Rouleau & Yvonne Giordano, 2010. ""Extreme" Organizational Ethnography: The Case of the Darwin Expedition in Patagonia," Post-Print halshs-00470018, HAL.
    10. Serge Perrot & Lionel Garreau, 2012. "Comprendre la dynamique de la socialisation organisationnelle : une approche par le sensemaking," Post-Print hal-01631119, HAL.
    11. Loréa Hireche Baiada & Lionel Garreau, 2014. "The dynamics of ethical judgment: an essay of modelization," Post-Print halshs-01009718, HAL.
    12. Zhanna Bagdasarov & James F. Johnson & Alexandra E. MacDougall & Logan M. Steele & Shane Connelly & Michael D. Mumford, 2016. "Mental Models and Ethical Decision Making: The Mediating Role of Sensemaking," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, pages 133-144.
    13. Lionel Garreau & Serge Perrot, 2012. "Comprendre la dynamique de la socialisation organisationnelle : une approche par le sensemaking," Post-Print halshs-01054809, HAL.
    14. Florence Allard-Poesi, 2015. "Dancing in the dark: Making sense of managerial roles during strategic conversations," Post-Print hal-01490734, HAL.
    15. Florence Allard-Poesi, 2015. "Dancing in the Dark: Making Sense of Managerial Roles during Strategic Conversations," Working Papers hal-01145772, HAL.
    16. Tucker, Danielle A. & Hendy, Jane & Barlow, James, 2016. "The dynamic nature of social accounts: An examination of how interpretive processes impact on account effectiveness," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, pages 6079-6087.
    17. repec:dau:papers:123456789/9535 is not listed on IDEAS
    18. Ashby, Simon & Peters, Linda D. & Devlin, James, 2014. "When an irresistible force meets an immovable object: The interplay of agency and structure in the UK financial crisis," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, pages 2671-2683.
    19. Anna Maria Mouza & Dimitra Souchamvali, 2016. "Effect of Greece’s New Reforms and Unplanned Organizational Changes on the Stress Levels of Primary School Teachers," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, pages 981-994.

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