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Critical review of organisation-technology sensemaking: towards technology materiality, discovery, and action

Mostafa Mesgari and Chitu Okoli

European Journal of Information Systems, 2019, vol. 28, issue 2, 205-232

Abstract: More than two decades of sensemaking research has brought thorough knowledge of how people understand organisational phenomena and attach meaning to them. This stream of research explores varied social and cognitive aspects of the process in the context of organisations and information technology (IT). However, such a large body of literature exhibits some significant shortcomings: there is a lack of IT materiality; a neglect of the discovery aspect of perception; and a lack of action orientation. So, there is limited understanding of the role that the material artefact plays in shaping users’ sensemaking of new IT, as well as how users’ actions affect their sensemaking. Moreover, while the literature mostly focuses on sensemaking as the creation of new meanings to rationalise user experiences, it neglects the discovery aspect of sensemaking that refers to perception of the meaning already available. To address these issues, this article provides a thorough review of the literature on organisation-technology sensemaking and synthesises our current understanding of the phenomenon. It then analyses the major shortcomings in our knowledge and highlights the need to address those shortcomings. It subsequently discusses an ecological approach consistent with the tenets of critical realism that can address some of the existing shortcomings.

Date: 2019
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DOI: 10.1080/0960085X.2018.1524420

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