Sensemaking Structures in Multiproject Settings and their Implications on Projects

University essay from KTH/Industriell ekonomi och organisation (Inst.); KTH/Industriell ekonomi och organisation (Inst.)

Abstract: Previous research has shown that sensemaking structures within organizations are not only present, but vital in project settings. Informal individually produced sensemaking structures, such as task lists, are a mean to formulate ones' own project work into individual actions. These have shown to be essential, but some drawbacks have also been shown to exist. However, the lens has previously been mainly on the individual level, and organizational implications have got little attention in research. This study aims to explore projects' implications when such individual structures are dominant in the process. To do so, the reasons for production of said structures are analysed as well as the source of them. As a mean to identify such implications, a qualitative single-case study was performed at a Swedish consultancy company, where in total 16 interviews were held with employees at various positions and hierarchical levels. As expected, sensemaking structures were widely used in several formats, produced both for individual and collective purposes. The study further reveals that depending on the source of inspiration for the task lists, there is a risk that multiple views of the projects' goal are formed, which in turn affects the projects' progress. Also, the responsibility of the project leaders was shown to be of importance as a mean to minimize individual prioritization and instead build a uniform perception of projects' priorities, thus through communication and transparency. As the study finds a clear connection between individuals' sensemaking structures and organizational implications, further and more broad research on sensemaking structures through an organizational lens is suggested.

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