The sense of it all: Framing and narratives in sensegiving about a strategic change

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Research units

  • City University of New York
  • Erasmus University Rotterdam


Managers leading strategic change processes have to be skilled language users in order to convince others of the necessity of change and to shape the interpretations of their followers in a preferred direction. This paper asks how and why managers employ certain forms of language in their sensegiving during strategic change, and when these managers are effective in their language use to change the sensemaking of others in the organization. On the basis of a longitudinal case study of a European multinational corporation, we find that effective sensegiving is about providing organizational members with a pragmatic form – a way of making sense rather than, as previous research suggests, about providing them with pre-packaged meanings. We extend prior research by distinguishing the effects that the different linguistic forms of managerial sensegiving have on organizational sensemaking. Furthermore, the managers we studied were effective in their sensegiving when they combined framing and narratives. These two forms of language supported each other by amplifying the overall effect on organizational sensemaking. This notion of a combined use of framing and narratives complements previous research, which has largely studied them separately.


Original languageEnglish
Article number101852
Number of pages17
JournalLong Range Planning
Issue number5
Early online date6 Oct 2018
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2019
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

ID: 30358831