Power in Sensemaking Processes

Henri Schildt, Saku Mantere, Joep Cornelissen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

46 Citations (Scopus)
148 Downloads (Pure)


This article examines the effects of power on sensemaking processes, bridging two major, yet traditionally separate, literatures in organization studies. Dividing power into its systemic and episodic forms, we elaborate how power shapes not only the content of sensemaking, but also the form of sensemaking processes. We explicate the distinct ways in which power works in four archetypal sensemaking processes: automatic (preconscious and committed), improvisational (preconscious and provisional), algorithmic (conscious and committed) and reflective (conscious and provisional). These ideal-type processes help us theorize how influences related to systemic and episodic power induce more or less conscious and provisional forms of sensemaking. This refined understanding of sensemaking processes enables further explication of episodic power into distinctive kinds of sensegiving and sensebreaking activities.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)241-265
JournalOrganization Studies
Issue number2
Early online date26 May 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2020
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • coherence
  • contradiction
  • discourse
  • interpretation
  • plausibility
  • power
  • sensebreaking
  • sensegiving
  • sensemaking


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