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Sensegiving in organizations via the use of business analytics

Morteza Namvar (Business School, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia)
Ali Intezari (Business School, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia)
Ghiyoung Im (University of Louisville, Louisville, Kentucky, USA)

Information Technology & People

ISSN: 0959-3845

Article publication date: 9 April 2021

Issue publication date: 16 November 2021




Business analytics (BA) has been a breakthrough technological development in recent years. Although scholars have suggested several solutions in using these technologies to facilitate decision-making, there are as of yet limited studies on how analysts, in practice, improve decision makers' understanding of business environments. This study uses sensemaking theory and proposes a model of how data analysts generate analytical outcomes to improve decision makers' understanding of the business environment.


This study employs an interpretive field study with thematic analysis. The authors conducted 32 interviews with data analysts and consultants in Australia and New Zealand. The authors then applied thematic analysis to the collected data.


The thematic analysis discovered four main sensegiving activities, including data integration, trustworthiness analysis, appropriateness analysis and alternative selection. The proposed model demonstrates how these activities support the properties of sensemaking and result in improved decision-making.

Research limitations/implications

This study provides strong empirical evidence for the theory development and practice of sensemaking. It brings together two distinct fields – sensemaking and business analytics – and demonstrates how the approaches advocated by these two fields could improve analytics applications. The findings also propose theoretical implications for information system development (ISD).

Practical implications

This study demonstrates how data analysts could use analytical tools and social mechanisms to improve decision makers' understanding of the business environment.


This study is the first known empirical study to conceptualize the theory of sensemaking in the context of BA and propose a model for analytical sensegiving in organizations.



The authors would like to thank Saeed Akhlaghpour for his insightful suggestions that significantly improved our manuscript. The authors are grateful to all their research participants for their input to this study and their time spent with the authors. The authors are obliged to Jacob Cybulski and Yee Ling Boo for their help with collecting some of the data used in this study. Finally, the authors thank the guest editor, Denis Dennehy, for his timely and constructive feedback and three anonymous reviewers for their in-depth and invaluable guidance.


Namvar, M., Intezari, A. and Im, G. (2021), "Sensegiving in organizations via the use of business analytics", Information Technology & People, Vol. 34 No. 6, pp. 1615-1638.



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