Research Repository

The importance of role sending in the sensemaking of change agent roles

Tucker, DA and Hendy, J and Barlow, J (2015) 'The importance of role sending in the sensemaking of change agent roles.' Journal of Health, Organisation and Management, 29 (7). 1047 - 1064. ISSN 1477-7266

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Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to investigate what happens when a lack of role-sending results in ambiguous change agent roles during a large scale organisational reconfiguration. The authors consider the role of sensemaking in resolving role ambiguity of middle manager change agents and the consequences of this for organisational restructuring. Design/methodology/approach – Data were collected from a case study analysis of significant organisational reconfiguration across a local National Health Service Trust in the UK. Data consists of 82 interviews, complemented by analysis of over 100 documents and field notes from 51 hours of observations collected over five phases covering a three year period before, during and after the reconfiguration. An inductive qualitative analysis revealed the sensemaking processes by which ambiguity in role definition was resolved. Findings – The data explains how change agents collectively make sense of a role in their own way, drawing on their own experiences and views as well as cues from other organisational members. The authors also identified the organisational outcomes which resulted from this freedom in sensemaking. This study demonstrates that by leaving too much flexibility in the definition of the role, agents developed their own sensemaking which was subsequently very difficult to manipulate. Practical implications – In creating new roles, management first needs to have a realistic vision of the task and roles that their agents will perform, and second, to communicate these expectations to both those responsible for recruiting these roles and to the agents themselves. Originality/value – Much of the focus in sensemaking research has been on the importance of change agents’ sensemaking of the change but there has been little focus on how change agents sensemake their own role in the change.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Divisions: Faculty of Social Sciences > Essex Business School
Depositing User: Danielle Tucker
Date Deposited: 23 Feb 2015 17:05
Last Modified: 29 Mar 2021 11:15

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