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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

The stories we tell ourselves: How leaders can work with sensecrafting
by Swanson, Kira J., Ph.D., Saybrook University, 2015, 306; 3683100
Abstract (Summary)

We are facing an unprecedented level of interconnectedness that has engendered a level of complexity that defies our historical reasoning capacity. Building off of the literature on sensemaking, this action research study proposed and investigated a new concept in leadership to respond to the growing complexity: sensecrafting. Sensecrafting refers to deliberate, collective sensemaking, while sensemaking refers to "how [people] construct what they construct, why, and with what effects . . . " (Weick, 1995, p. 4). The study answered the research question: How can individuals develop their capacity for sensecrafting in order to cultivate a more generative relationship with the organizations to which they belong? Employing Herda's hermeneutic participatory research, the study consisted of three, 1-hour conversations with six research participants which were recorded via Skype and transcribed. The purpose of the study was to see how participants employed nine traits of sensecrafting (learning, tolerating ambiguity, discernment, openness, framing, mindfulness, envisioning, action and reflection) in the workplace. Additionally, the study investigated how participants worked with stories to create a generative working environment. In the study, participants worked with a set of 18 cards that presented techniques for enhancing their sensecrafting skills. A thematic analysis of the study found that participants made frequent use of the sensecrafting traits at a personal level, and less frequent use of the traits at a collective level. The findings suggest that participants' possessed a high degree of potential to further develop their skills. Participants' exhibition of the sensecrafting traits generated value both for the individuals in the study and for their organizations. Benefits that accrued to individuals included improved relationships with key personnel and insights into how to cope with changes in the workplace. Implications from the study included the observation that a useful way to work with the sensecrafting traits would be through an instrument that measures participants on each of the dimensions of sensecrafting and that provides feedback to individuals about how they can capitalize on strengths and develop areas of opportunity.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Southern, Nancy
Commitee: Kaipa, Prasad, Piazza, Charles
School: Saybrook University
Department: Organizational Systems
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-B 76/07(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Management, Occupational psychology, Organizational behavior
Keywords: Generative working environments, Hermeneutic participatory research, Leadership, Sensecrafting, Sensemaking, Storytelling
Publication Number: 3683100
ISBN: 978-1-321-57043-4
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