Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to explore the practical daily work undertaken by middle‐level managers in Primary Care Trusts (PCTs), focusing upon the micro‐processes by which these managers enact sensemaking in their organisations. Design/methodology/approach – The research took a case study approach, undertaking detailed case studies in four PCTs in England. Data collection included shadowing managers, meeting observations and interviews. Findings – The research elucidated two categories of enactment behaviour exhibited by PCT managers: presence/absence; and the production of artefacts. Being “present” in or “absent” from meetings enacted sensemaking over and above any concrete contribution to the meeting made by the actors involved. This paper explores the factors affecting these processes, and describes the situations in which enactment of sense is most likely to occur. Producing artefacts such as meeting minutes or PowerPoint slides also enacted sense in the study sites in addition to the content of the artefact. The factors affecting this are explored. Practical implications – The study has practical implications for all managers seeking to maximise their influence in their organisations. It also provides specific evidence relevant to managers working in the new Clinical Commissioning Groups currently being formed in England. Originality/value – The study expands the understanding of sensemaking in organisations in two important ways. Firstly, it moves beyond discourse to explore the ways in which behaviours can enact sense. Secondly, it explores the distinction between active and unconscious sensemaking.
Journal of Health Organisation and Management – Emerald Publishing
Published: May 17, 2013
Keywords: Sensemaking; Enactment; Praxis; National Health Service; Commissioning; Middle managers; Primary care
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