To read this content please select one of the options below:

On the role of emotional arousal in sensegiving

Timo Vuori (Department of Industrial Engineering and Management, Aalto University, Espoo, Finland)
Jouni Virtaharju (Department of Industrial Engineering and Management, Aalto University, Espoo, Finland)

Journal of Organizational Change Management

ISSN: 0953-4814

Article publication date: 10 February 2012




This paper aims to increase understanding of how emotional arousal could be used to enhance the adoption of new beliefs during a sensegiving episode.


Case study about the sensegiving tactics of a successful corporate coach and the reactions of 102 sense‐receivers. Data consist of 39 interviews, 95 hours of observation, a longitudinal survey, and informal discussions.


Two elements are recognized in sensegiving, which are: increasing sense‐receivers' level of emotional arousal; and cognitively associating that arousal with desired definitions of organizational reality. While the cognitive component determines the beliefs individuals come to hold, the emotional component influences how intensively they will hold these beliefs. Emotional arousal can be amplified in ways that are loosely coupled with the cognitive dimension of sensegiving.

Research limitations/implications

The level of emotional arousal is assessed qualitatively through observations, interviews, and interpretation of open‐ended survey responses. Future research should use more objective measures for assessing the level of emotional arousal and replicate the findings of this study. In addition, future research should investigate different combinations of emotional and cognitive sensegiving that may lead to good results.

Practical implications

This study identifies a sensegiving approach that seems to work. Sensegivers can use these findings by first focusing on increasing sense‐receivers' emotional arousal and only then focusing on delivering their actual message.


Existing sensegiving studies have mainly focused on cognition and identity‐related dynamics and explanations. This study shows that emotional arousal is an alternative explanation for many of the previous findings.



Vuori, T. and Virtaharju, J. (2012), "On the role of emotional arousal in sensegiving", Journal of Organizational Change Management, Vol. 25 No. 1, pp. 48-66.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2012, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Related articles