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Sensemaking and Sensegiving during Organizational Change: A Case Study of a Singapore Religious Leader Open Access

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The purpose of this case study is to examine and describe the sensemaking and sensegiving processes of a religious leader when introducing an organizational change within his organization, an independent church in Singapore. This study identifies and addresses both conceptual and practical problems in the fields of leaders' sensegiving and sensemaking, and organizational change. To provide depth and a systematic approach to this study, the researcher has used Weick's (1995) sensemaking properties and Gioia and Chittipeddi's (1991) sensegiving framework as the theoretical framework of inquiry. Interviews were conducted with the primary participant of the study, the founder and senior pastor of the organization, and secondary participants, namely, presently employed as well as former staff and leaders of the organization. The researcher has utilized both emic and etic processes in the research study. Of the nineteen themes that had emerged from the data analysis, fourteen of them bear strong similarities with the conceptual model of sensemaking and sensegiving proposed in this research study. This study offers the following conclusions: 1. Weick's (1995) seven properties of sensemaking process are fully engaged, though at varying levels, during a time of organizational change.2. Sensemaking, during an organizational change, is a proactive response to expected events and occurrences.3. The leader has, in addition to retrospective sensemaking, engaged in two other types of self-reflection that occurred when bringing about a deliberate organization change.4. The leader has fully engaged, though at varying levels, in Gioia and Chittipeddi's (1991) sensegiving activities when implementing an organizational change.5. The use of a buy-in group helps the organizational leader give sense more effectively to other members in the organization6. A leader's sensegiving and sensemaking processes are intricately linked by a third process which the researcher has termed as sensetaking.7. The leader's and members' sensemaking, sensegiving and sensetaking processes are inter-influencing.8. Emotion has a significant influence on the processes of sensemaking and sensegiving.9. The values of trust, integrity and openness and the sense of relationship are enhancing factors in the sensemaking and sensegiving processes.10. The leader's personal motivation and vision is another enhancing factor in the sensemaking and sensegiving processes. The study has added to theory and practice in the fields of organizational change, sensegiving, sensemaking, and leadership. It has further proposed some new concepts, notably, sensetaking. Nevertheless, there is much more to be researched and explored in these fields as the study has identified possible areas for future research and practice.

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