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
Having introduced the theoretical framework, from which this study has it outset, at previous LOK conferences, this paper will mainly be concerned with the substantive field of the study, methodological considerations and preliminary findings. The background for the study, however, is a sensemaking approach to strategy and strategising in small and medium sizes organisations. Sensemaking is concerned with cognitive and action processes people engage in socially. Based on beliefs about the 'self-construct' people will interpret their worlds and act upon that interpretation. In the sensemaking approach a central point is the ongoing interchange between socio-cognitive structures and processes on one side and actions on the other. This interchange is seen as iterative as socio-cognitive structures and processes form actions, as well as these shape cognition. This lies along thoughts first presented by Giddens (1984). In his theory of structuration, structures are formative of structuration, but the process of structuration likewise re-enacts or changes structures. Structures in this understanding therefore only exist as cognitive structure and structuring is the process of institutionalising roles and routines (or structures) through interaction. From beliefs regarding organisational identity, as labels characteristic of central, distinctive and enduring features of the organisation (Gioia, Schultz & Corley 2000; Albert & Whetten 1985), and organisational image, how members think the environment perceives the organisation (Dutton & Dukerich 1991), will organisation members define their organisation. Based on their individual 'bibliography' will organisation members in interaction reach an intersubjective (Weick 1995) interpretation of the organisational field (DiMaggio & Powell 1983) and the environment. DiMaggio & Powell (1983) introduced the concept of organisational field to signify the various players perceived in the business by the organisation, ranging from customers, competitors, suppliers, agencies etc. Applying the sensemaking approach affects how strategy is seen. Strategy is a common concept but in the different theoretical schools of strategy underlying assumptions vary (Chaffee 1985). In this study strategy is seen as result of organisational sensemaking. Hence, here strategy and strategising are seen as future oriented cognitive structures. Actions reflect the organisation's past and present represented by existing structures and roles. Strategy therefore, in this study, conceptually moves from being plans concerned with long term goals to become a cognitive frame of reference for actions (Smircich & Stubbart 1985) supported by actions taken to intercept cues of importance for interpretation (Daft & Weick 1984). In short, the study is aimed at socio-cognitive structures and processes in sensemaking and strategising and how these are enacted through actions. A short introduction to the substantial setting is given to better display the context of the study.