Sensemaking in Organizations


Course Objective

Introduction to a constructivist or ‘COM’ approach for studying
organizations and processes of organizing. Analysis of academic texts,
and the application of theory to case studies. Training in methods of
organizational ethnography and related methods for critical management

Course Content

Organizational Sensemaking sets the stage for the Master's Culture,
Organization and Management, both theoretically and methodologically. We
focus on (1) social actors’ sense-making and sense-breaking (disrupting,
intentionally or not) practices in (inter)organizational settings, and
(2) our own sensemaking efforts as organizational researchers. First, to
bring into view organizational actors’ attempts to make (or disrupt)
sense of everyday organizational life, we discuss concepts such as
power, culture and identity, emotion, and their symbolic manifestations
in (inter)actions (practices), discourse (talk and text), and
(artefacts). We illustrate this perspective to such fields of study as
organizational change, managerial control, organizational resistance,
intercultural communication, and processes of inclusion and exclusion.
Second, we also zoom in on ethnographic and other interpretative methods
for doing research in and between organizations. In our understanding of
teaching, discussion and debate are important. Therefore, the interfaces
of theoretical insights and application of methods emerge via discussion
of (1) the craft of observation (2) the importance of reflexivity (3)
the role (and limitations) of the researcher (4) the different options
for gathering data (written, pictured, filmed).

Teaching Methods

Lectures and, from the second week on, group seminars, in which we will
discuss literature, do research training, exercises, a role play and
individual assignments.

Method of Assessment

Assignments together 30% of the final mark; written exam (minimum result
6) constitutes the other 70% of the final mark. Not all assignments are
open for a resit. A separate research assignment will be available as a
resit for those students who need this.


To be determined – and presented before the course begins (via

Additional Information

Students are expected to read the prescribed literature before every
lecture and workgroup meeting. Active participation in class and project
work is required.

Custom Course Registration

In this course you can not enroll yourself for the tutorials, but you will be assigned by the course coordinator. At the latest in the first week of the course you will find to which tutorial you are assigned in your personal schedule in VUnet. Note: You do have to register for the course, with the corresponding parts!

General Information

Course Code S_SOZ
Credits 6 EC
Period P1
Course Level 400
Language of Tuition English
Faculty Faculty of Social Sciences
Course Coordinator dr. F.H. Kamsteeg
Examiner dr. F.H. Kamsteeg
Teaching Staff dr. H. Wels
dr. F.H. Kamsteeg
dr. S.B. Ybema

Practical Information

You need to register for this course yourself

Teaching Methods Study Group*, Lecture

*You cannot select a group yourself for this teaching method, you will be placed in a group.

Target audiences

This course is also available as: