1 Department of Marketing and Statistics, Aarhus School of Business, Aarhus BSS, Aarhus University2 MAPP - Centre for Research on Customer Relations in the Food Sector, Aarhus School of Business, Aarhus BSS, Aarhus University3 unknown
This study is part of a greater research project to deepen knowledge and find new aspects of the cognitive structures and processes forming organisational change and development. Within these broad boundaries, the purpose of this study is to make a contribution towards an understanding of cognitive structures and processes involved in strategising. Setting out from a theoretical framework of organisational sensemaking, the aim is to generate an understanding of how organisational sensemaking forms the strategy of organisations. And how strategy is implemented via structuring and structures throughout the organisation. Strategy is a means to strengthen competitiveness. Theories trying to prescribe how strategy should be formed and implemented have emerged and evolved. Most of these theories, however, have been directed at responsively adjusting the organisation to the market and the environment, more so than proactively influencing the environment in the direction of the organisation. The intent of this project is to build an understanding of how organisations can influence and possibly shape their environment through organisational sensemaking. There seems to be a lack of studies focusing on the opportunities for the organisation itself to enact and create its possibilities and environment (Mintzberg, Ahlstrand & Lampel 1998), (Chaffee 1985). Applying a sensemaking approach is a way to uncover the constant interchange between cognition and action. Cognitive structures form the actions that can be undertaken in the organisation. At the same time, actions influence the cognitive structures which means they may continually change as a result of organisational enactment. The cognitive structures to be studied in this project are made up by identity, image, interpretation, strategy and organisational structures. Actions influencing these cognitive structures included in the study are sensegiving, structuring and behaviour. Through studying how strategy is formed and implemented in structures and routines, this project is aimed at exploring new possibilities of building competitiveness. The point of departure is in the conceptual, theoretical domain. Preconceived sets of relations are based on findings from and theories developed within the marketing, management and organisational areas. The Danish food processing industry has been chosen as the substantial domain in which to search for the theoretically developed sets of relations and for data on which to build new theory. The design of the study, however, is that data have priority over theory in the sense that theory will be revised if data in the slightest way question the theoretically set relations. To analyse the processes of organisational sensemaking, a longitudinal study is planned and it will be conducted on two-three organisational levels from the individual through departmental to organisational levels. Methodological elements from grounded theory will be applied. The themes of this paper will be presented as follows: First, the substantial embedding system is introduced shortly, namely the Danish food processing industry. Having presented the substantial setting in which the study will take place, the paradigmatic background will be discussed. In line with the paradigm lies the theoretical framework to be applied in the study. In this paper, the sensemaking approach will be introduced briefly. After this short presentation of the sensemaking approach, the concepts of strategy, structuring, structure and behaviour and their relation to the sensemaking approach will be discussed. The paper concludes with a description of the methodological considerations.