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Article
Publication date: 27 November 2018

Eeva Aromaa, Päivi Eriksson, Jean Helms Mills, Esa Hiltunen, Maarit Lammassaari and Albert J. Mills

The purpose of this paper is to analyze current literature on critical sensemaking (CSM) to assess its significance and potential for understanding the role of agency in…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to analyze current literature on critical sensemaking (CSM) to assess its significance and potential for understanding the role of agency in management and organizational studies.

Design/methodology/approach

The analysis involves an examination of a selection of 51 applied studies that cite, draw on and contribute to CSM, to assess the challenges and potential of utilizing CSM.

Findings

The paper reveals the range of organizational issues that this work has been grappling with; the unique insights that CSM has revealed in the study of management and organizations; and some of the challenges and promises of CSM for studying agency in context. This sets up discussion of organizational issues and insights provided by CSM to reveal its potential in dealing with issues of agency in organizations. The sheer scope of CSM studies indicates that it has relevance for a range of management researchers, including those interested in behavior at work, theories of organization, leadership and crisis management, diversity management, emotion, ethics and justice, and many more.

Research limitations/implications

The main focus is restricted to providing a working knowledge of CSM rather than other approaches to agency.

Practical implications

The paper outlines the challenges and potential for applying the CSM theory.

Social implications

The paper reveals the range of problem-solving issues that CSM studies have been applied to.

Originality/value

This is the first major review of the challenges and potential of applying CSM; concluding with a discussion of its strengths and limitations and providing a summary of insights for future work.

Details

Qualitative Research in Organizations and Management: An International Journal, vol. 14 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1746-5648

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 14 May 2020

Kerry Hendricks, Nick Deal, Albert J. Mills and Jean Helms Mills

The purpose of this study is to draw attention to the heuristic value of intersectionality by historicizing it as a framework appropriate for the use of studying…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this study is to draw attention to the heuristic value of intersectionality by historicizing it as a framework appropriate for the use of studying discrimination and discriminatory practices in organizations over time.

Design/methodology/approach

Utilizing a fusion between amodernist historiography vis-à-vis the nascent ANTi-History approach and intersectional complexity, the authors draw upon historical narratives from archival materials British Airways to empirically examine the utility of, and turn to, intersectional history in historical organization studies.

Findings

Analysis of archival materials and commissioned corporate histories revealed subjectivities of socially constructing historicized intersectional identities. This suggests that certain identities have been and continue to “enjoy” privilege while others are marginalized and/or neglected through serial interconnected historical meanings. These processes of privileging and marginalization rely on the way a nexus of meaning is configured.

Research limitations/implications

The research process relied and is dependent on limited archival materials within a single organization (British Airways) and industry (civil aviation). The critique herein should not be misinterpreted as judgment of the airline itself as an exemplar of discriminatory practices but rather for its longevity as an ongoing concern; its rich, colonialist history within the United Kingdom and accessibility of data. Archival traces are housed within a semi-public corporate archive which means those traces available for study have been professional and rhetorically curated.

Practical implications

From the perspective of workplace diversity, our aim has been to reveal to diversity professionals and activists not only the role of history in shaping discrimination but also, in particular, to be alert to the processes whereby the production of knowledge of the past takes place. The authors hope also to have drawn attention to the power of organizations in the generation of discriminatory historical accounts and the need to further explore how such accounts are produced as knowledge of the past. Finally, the authors introduce the notion of “nexus of meaning” to suggest that in the complexity of intersectionality, the authors need to explore not only how people experience different and combined forms of discrimination but also how those experiences are shaped in a complex series of meaning that owe much to past experiences.

Social implications

The research directs attention to the nexus of meaning that constitute intersecting identities.

Originality/value

The research attempts to historicize intersectionality as a qualitative framework worthy of consideration in management and organization studies. From the perspective of studying discrimination in organizational life, the aim of this paper is to bring forward the role history plays in shaping discrimination as well as the processes whereby the production of knowledge of the past takes place. Attention is also drawn to the power of organizations in the generation of discriminatory historical accounts and the need to further explore how such accounts are produced. This study introduces the nexus of meaning analytic that understands how the experiences of different and combined forms of discrimination are shaped by meanings of the past.

Details

Management Decision, vol. ahead-of-print no. ahead-of-print
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0025-1747

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Article
Publication date: 11 November 2019

Stefanie Ruel, Albert J. Mills and Jean Helms Mills

The authors focus on “writing women into ‘history’” in this study, embracing the notion of cisgender and ethnicity in relation to the “historic turn”. As such, the authors…

Abstract

Purpose

The authors focus on “writing women into ‘history’” in this study, embracing the notion of cisgender and ethnicity in relation to the “historic turn”. As such, the authors bring forward the stories of the US Pan American Airway’s Guided Missile Range Division (GMRD) and the White women who worked there. The authors ask what has a Cold War US missile division to tell us about present and future gendered relationships in the North American space industry.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors apply Foucault’s technology of lamination, a form of critical discourse analysis, to both narrative texts and photographic images in the GMRD’s in-house newsletter, the Clipper, dating from 1964 until the end of 1967. They meld an autoethnography to this technique, providing space for the first author to share her experiences within the contemporary space industry in relation to the GMRD White women experiences.

Findings

The authors surface, in applying this combined methodology, a story about a White women’s historical, present and future cisgender social reality in the North American space industry. They are contributing then to a multi-voiced, cisgender/ethnic “historic turn” that, to date, is focused on White men alone in the US race to the moon.

Social implications

The social implication of this study lies in challenging perceptions of the masculinist-gendering of the past by bringing forward tales of, and by, women. This study also brings a White woman’s voice forward, within a contemporary North American space industry organization.

Originality/value

The authors are making a three-fold contribution to this special issue, and to an understandings of gendered/ethnic multi-voiced histories. The authors untangle the mid-Cold War phase from the essentialized Cold War era. They recreate multi-voiced histories of White women within the North American space industry while adding an important contemporary voice. They also present a novel methodology that combines the technology of lamination with autoethnography, to provide a gateway to recognizing the impact of multi-voiced histories onto contemporary and future gendered/ethnic relationships.

Details

Journal of Management History, vol. 25 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1751-1348

Keywords

Abstract

Details

Insights and Research on the Study of Gender and Intersectionality in International Airline Cultures
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78714-546-7

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Article
Publication date: 11 November 2019

Ellen C. Shaffner, Albert J. Mills and Jean Helms Mills

This paper aims to outline the possibilities of intersectional history as a novel method for management history. Intersectional history combines intersectionality and the…

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to outline the possibilities of intersectional history as a novel method for management history. Intersectional history combines intersectionality and the study of the past to examine discrimination in organizations over time. This paper explores the need for intersectional work in management history, outlines the vision for intersectional history and provides a brief example analyzing the treatment of Australian Aboriginal people in a historical account of Qantas Airways.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper contends that intersectionality is a discursive practice, and it adopts a relational approach to the study of the past to inform the method. This paper focuses on the social construction of identities and the enduring nature of traces of the powerful in organizations over time.

Findings

The example of Qantas Airways demonstrates that intersectional history can be used to interrogate powerful traces of the past to reveal novel insights about marginalized peoples over time.

Originality/value

Intersectional history is a specific and reflexive method that allows for the surfacing of identity-based marginalization over time. The paper’s concentration on identity as socially constructed allows a particular focus on notions or representations of the marginalized in traces of the past. These traces may otherwise mask the existence and importance of marginalized groups in organizations’ dominant histories.

Details

Journal of Management History, vol. 25 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1751-1348

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 11 July 2019

Christopher M. Hartt, Albert J. Mills and Jean Helms Mills

This paper aims to study the role of non-corporeal Actant theory in historical research through a case study of the trajectory of the New Deal as one of the foremost…

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to study the role of non-corporeal Actant theory in historical research through a case study of the trajectory of the New Deal as one of the foremost institutions in the USA since its inception in the early 1930s.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors follow the trajectory of the New Deal through a focus on Vice President Henry A. Wallace. Drawing on ANTi-History, the authors view history as a powerful discourse for organizing understandings of the past and non-corporeal Actants as a key influence on making sense of (past) events.

Findings

The authors conclude that non-corporeal Actants influence the shaping of management and organization studies that serve paradoxically to obfuscate history and its relationship to the past.

Research limitations/implications

The authors drew on a series of published studies of Henry Wallace and archival material in the Roosevelt Library, but the study would benefit from an in-depth analysis of the Wallace archives.

Practical implications

The authors reveal the influences of non-corporeal Actants as a method for dealing with the past. The authors do this through the use of ANTi-History as a method of historical analysis.

Social implications

The past is an important source of understanding of the present and future; this innovative approach increases the potential to understand.

Originality/value

Decisions are often black boxes. Non-Corporeal Actants are a new tool with which to see the underlying inputs of choice.

Details

Journal of Management History, vol. 26 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1751-1348

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 28 August 2009

Amy Thurlow and Jean Helms Mills

The purpose of this paper is to focus on the change experience of a regional health centre that was merged in the late 1990s and shows how organizational talk becomes…

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Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to focus on the change experience of a regional health centre that was merged in the late 1990s and shows how organizational talk becomes privileged in the change process, and how some talk becomes meaningful in the constitution of organizational identity.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper analyzes the process through which some talk is privileged in the organizational change process. The deconstruction of language used throughout this analysis highlights the relationship between sites of power and the ability to affect sensemaking among organizational members. Using a post‐structuralist approach, the authors apply the analytic framework of critical sensemaking (CSM) and critical discourse analysis.

Findings

Organizational talk is presented as the enactment of a sensemaking process and insights are offered into the process of how organizational identities are maintained, altered or constrained during change. The discursive effects of the language of change, including the belief that change is actually a discursive process about the mutual constitution of language and identity in a process of making sense of the discourse of change, are discussed.

Research limitations/implications

The merging of critical discourse analysis with CSM provides an alternative means of understanding organizational change, including the socio‐psychological processes that occur within the privileging of the language of change.

Practical implications

For organizational change practitioners, the paper provides insights into the importance of how organizational members make sense of the change language discourse, which can affect how they introduce future change processes.

Originality/value

The paper provides a novel way of understanding the change process and furthers the empirical use of (critical) sensemaking as a method.

Details

Journal of Organizational Change Management, vol. 22 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0953-4814

Keywords

Abstract

Details

Connecting Values to Action: Non-Corporeal Actants and Choice
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78973-308-2

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Article
Publication date: 24 August 2010

Jean Helms Mills, Amy Thurlow and Albert J. Mills

The purpose of this paper is to revisit the oft cited but as yet not operationalized Weick's sensemaking framework, in order to provide suggested ways forward. Development…

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6665

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to revisit the oft cited but as yet not operationalized Weick's sensemaking framework, in order to provide suggested ways forward. Development of a method based on Weick's sensemaking is suggested as a starting point for a heuristic that takes into account missing elements from his original model while operationalizing (critical) sensemaking as an analytical tool for understanding organizational events.

Design/methodology/approach

Following the trajectory of sensemaking, the limitations of Weick's model were discussed (i.e. failure to address power and context) and the critical sensemaking was developed as a method that takes into account agency in context. Empirical studies that apply sensemaking were discussed.

Findings

It is concluded that plausibility and identity construction are key to understanding how some voices are heard over others and through critical sensemaking sense that can be made of such phenomena as the gendering or organizational culture and discriminatory practices in organizations.

Practical implications

A heuristic can help people to understand the socio‐psychological properties involved in behavioural outcomes.

Originality/value

Critical sensemaking builds on and operationalizes Weick's original sensemaking approach and demonstrates how it can be used in a range of empirical studies, something that Weick himself suggested was lacking.

Details

Qualitative Research in Organizations and Management: An International Journal, vol. 5 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1746-5648

Keywords

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Abstract

Details

Insights and Research on the Study of Gender and Intersectionality in International Airline Cultures
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78714-546-7

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