Making sense of an innovation in a safety-critical megaproject

Kirsi Aaltonen*, Nadezhda Gotcheva, Jaakko Kujala, Karlos Artto

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: In megaprojects, changes in scope and organization may occur continuously. The purpose of this paper is to investigate how actors in a project network make sense of a safety-related process innovation introduced during the design phase. Design/methodology/approach: An inductive single case study of an ongoing nuclear power plant project in Europe was employed to elucidate sensemaking processes using a narrative approach. Findings: The empirical analysis yielded nine distinct narratives regarding the innovation each advancing a different account of the rationale for implementing the new method, and the subjects, objects and implications of the change. The findings suggest that actors’ differing framings of innovation may increase ambiguity and equivocality. Originality/value: These insights augment existing knowledge of innovation management and system safety in safety-critical megaprojects by revealing project actors’ discrepant sensemaking processes with regard to innovations. To successfully manage sensemaking and its consequences for innovation adoption, managers need to take account of any such discrepancies in sensemaking processes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)520-542
Number of pages23
JournalInternational Journal of Managing Projects in Business
Issue number3
Early online date1 Jan 2019
Publication statusPublished - 14 Nov 2019
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Change
  • Innovation management
  • Megaprojects
  • Project networks


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