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Making Sense of Strategic Ambiguity

Malmberg, Peter LU and Malmqvist, Victor LU (2013) FEKN90 20131
Department of Business Administration
Abstract
Purpose
Our purpose is to increase the understanding of an organization’s change process by interpreting organizational members’ lived experience during a change process where messages are being communicated ambiguously. We will draw on Weick’s theoretical framework of sensemaking in order to analyze the effects of top managers’ strategic ambiguity. We further aim to contribute to academia by addressing undertheorized gaps in the existing sensemaking theory regarding how cues and frames play part in the sensemaking process and thus affect how the change process is interpreted by organizational members.

Methodology
The study has an inductive approach. We have used a qualitative method and collected our primary data through... (More)
Purpose
Our purpose is to increase the understanding of an organization’s change process by interpreting organizational members’ lived experience during a change process where messages are being communicated ambiguously. We will draw on Weick’s theoretical framework of sensemaking in order to analyze the effects of top managers’ strategic ambiguity. We further aim to contribute to academia by addressing undertheorized gaps in the existing sensemaking theory regarding how cues and frames play part in the sensemaking process and thus affect how the change process is interpreted by organizational members.

Methodology
The study has an inductive approach. We have used a qualitative method and collected our primary data through semi-structured in-depth interviews.

Theoretical perspective
Our case study draws on Weick’s theoretical framework of sensemaking as the primary body of theory.

Empirical foundation
Our empirical foundation is based on ten in-depth interviews and one pilot interview with organizational members at our case study-company. The interviewees worked on three hierarchical levels; top managers (3), middle managers (3), and salespeople (5).

Conclusions
We have developed a model for understanding the individual’s sensemaking process. We concluded that this process is highly influential in change processes, especially when collective frames are missing and individuals are left to make sense from their own individual frames. This may result in diverse interpretations of the same organizational event, which in turn leads to diverse behavior from the employees. This is the conventional purpose strategic ambiguity.

In our case study company, the top management was strategically ambiguous in order to create consensus in the initiated change process but viewed the diverse interpretations as an unwanted consequence. Top managers did not want to surrender the power to make strategic judgments to subordinates. However, they transferred the responsibility to turn the vision into practice to middle managers - a vision which the middle managers have not participated in formulating. (Less)
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
Malmberg, Peter LU and Malmqvist, Victor LU
supervisor
organization
course
FEKN90 20131
year
type
H1 - Master's Degree (One Year)
subject
keywords
sensemaking, cues, frames, strategic ambiguity, organizational change, communication
language
English
id
3812336
date added to LUP
2013-06-20 13:51:49
date last changed
2013-06-20 13:51:49
@misc{3812336,
  abstract     = {Purpose
Our purpose is to increase the understanding of an organization’s change process by interpreting organizational members’ lived experience during a change process where messages are being communicated ambiguously. We will draw on Weick’s theoretical framework of sensemaking in order to analyze the effects of top managers’ strategic ambiguity. We further aim to contribute to academia by addressing undertheorized gaps in the existing sensemaking theory regarding how cues and frames play part in the sensemaking process and thus affect how the change process is interpreted by organizational members.

Methodology
The study has an inductive approach. We have used a qualitative method and collected our primary data through semi-structured in-depth interviews.

Theoretical perspective
Our case study draws on Weick’s theoretical framework of sensemaking as the primary body of theory.

Empirical foundation
Our empirical foundation is based on ten in-depth interviews and one pilot interview with organizational members at our case study-company. The interviewees worked on three hierarchical levels; top managers (3), middle managers (3), and salespeople (5).

Conclusions
We have developed a model for understanding the individual’s sensemaking process. We concluded that this process is highly influential in change processes, especially when collective frames are missing and individuals are left to make sense from their own individual frames. This may result in diverse interpretations of the same organizational event, which in turn leads to diverse behavior from the employees. This is the conventional purpose strategic ambiguity.

In our case study company, the top management was strategically ambiguous in order to create consensus in the initiated change process but viewed the diverse interpretations as an unwanted consequence. Top managers did not want to surrender the power to make strategic judgments to subordinates. However, they transferred the responsibility to turn the vision into practice to middle managers - a vision which the middle managers have not participated in formulating.},
  author       = {Malmberg, Peter and Malmqvist, Victor},
  keyword      = {sensemaking,cues,frames,strategic ambiguity,organizational change,communication},
  language     = {eng},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  title        = {Making Sense of Strategic Ambiguity},
  year         = {2013},
}