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Title: Wat leeft er nu echt in de organisatie? Een casestudyonderzoek binnen het informele netwerk naar betekenisgeving, emotie en contextuele factoren bij zelforganisatie.
Authors: Heuvel, M.J.C. van den
Issue Date: 28-May-2018
Publisher: Open Universiteit Nederland
Abstract: Summary In an environment where developments happen in rapid succession, organisations are trying to contend with these changes. There are several ways to adapt to a dynamic environment or, rather, organisational change can be interpreted in several ways. According to Homan (2005), the first and foremost role of change management should be the guiding of employees in applying sensemaking to the evolving situation. This, which is also referred to as the 'inside of organisational change', forms the core of this study. The aim of the study is to gain more insight into the assumed relationship between the process of sensemaking, the informal network, emotion and the contextual factors of psychological safety and a focus on learning. The components are investigated in relation to self-organisation. Self-organisation is currently a major reason for change in many companies. Citizens' self-organising capacity is also being called upon more emphatically in the current political and economic climates, and various governments and social institutions are in need of more knowledge on this subject (Huygen, Marissing, & Boutellier, 2012). The central research question is: 'What role do the experienced emotions, psychological safety and focus on learning play in the process of sensemaking within the informal network?' We define sensemaking as an uninterrupted, continuous process of social construction that takes place through interaction between people - the informal network. This network consists of communities that are the so-called 'change engines' of the organisation. It is within these communities that sensemaking processes take place and new meanings are formed (Homan, 2008). When it comes to the 'inside' perspective, emotion plays an important role in these processes. The link between emotions and sensemaking received little attention until recently, when emotion began to gain research focus as a component of the sensemaking process. Maitlis et al. (2013) suggest that the contextual factors of psychological safety and focus on learning are also part of this operation. As empirical studies into sensemaking, emotions and the influence of contextual factors are still rather limited, various researchers have called for clarification specifically in this area. This is a qualitative study that uses the Synthetron method. The survey population consists of 145 people, divided over 2 divisions and 14 teams. A design team, formed as part of the project, organised a chat session to investigate existing ideas about self-organisation. Based on the results, a questionnaire was drawn up with 39 statements about sensemaking, supplemented with questions about the relationship network, 7 questions on psychological safety, 18 questions regarding team learning and 24 questions about emotions. Based on the data received, an analysis was made of the reliability and other descriptive characteristics per construct. Various statistical analyses were carried out to answer the subquestions. In order to be able to answer the main research question, a number of regression analyses were carried out. This study confirms that emotions play a seminal role in the process of sensemaking. Wherever meaning is jointly given, emotion plays a significant role in the process. This concerns both positive emotions, such as inspiration, strength and unity, but also those associated with the Self-side, for instance independence, success, performance, protest and resistance, taken from the emotion circle of Hermans (2002). This agrees with the statement of Bartunek et al. (2006), suggesting that the emotions experienced during planned changes have a significant effect on the way sensemaking is given to a certain situation. Emotion thus seems to be an important factor in the shaping of the process (Maitlis et al., 2013) when already shared. This study found a high level of psychological safety within all teams. It can be said, therefore, that the condition for achieving shared meaning, i.e. a sufficiently safe environment or 'holding environment', (Homan, 2008) is met. However, this study finds no significant relationship between psychological safety and the sensemaking process. In none of the regression analyses does psychological safety emerge as a construct with a significant influence on the process of applying meaning. If the holding environment would not have existed within all of the groups, it might well have turned out that psychological safety does have an impact on the process. However this has not been investigated. In contrast to earlier studies, this study paints a better founded picture of what the Change Mirror reveals within organisations. Additionally, stronger statistics strengthen the plausibility of the results, to both outsiders and supporters of other research paradigms. For follow-up research, it is recommended to conduct this study in multiple organisations in order to increase the external validity. A longitudinal study could measure sensemaking, emotions, contextual factors and their relationships within informal networks at several moments in time. This might make it possible to confirm the difference in impact of emotion, contextual factors and the informal network on the different stages of the sensemaking process. Specifically the relationship between psychological safety and self-conscious emotions on the process of sensemaking is interesting to investigate, with a possible extension including groups that do and do not experience psychological safety. A further recommendation for future research is to more specifically explore the possible relationship between emotion and social cohesion within the team during the sensemaking process, where, for instance, emotion can be considered as a moderating variable of social cohesion.
Appears in Collections:MSc Management Science

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