Prospective sensemaking: Strategy-making in a pioneering firm


I employed a longitudinal, grounded-theory approach to investigate the processes by which firms not only try to “see” the future, but seek to shape it, as well. My investigation of the strategy-making processes in a pioneering firm that is widely acknowledged to have shaped the future of its industry over five decades showed that “creative enactment” – generative, reflexive interventions by which agents attempt to structure the environment towards desired ends – was a pivotal process. The findings help to extend the traditional sensemaking perspective, which is rooted in retrospective processes, to account more fully for prospective or forward-looking activities—especially those intended not merely to anticipate, but also to influence the future. The resulting “forward-looking” sensemaking model highlights not only the importance of creative enactment, but also the significance of “creative rationality” in understanding how firms can work to influence future environments. The resulting “forward- looking” sensemaking model also complements the dominant discourse in strategic management literature, which has historically focused on “fit” and ‘adaption” processes, by emphasizing processes that create the possibility of “shaping” environments.

Journal or Publication:
Academy of Management Proceedings
Authors:
Shubha Patvardhan
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Status:
publish
Year Published
2015
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