Managing strategic change and strategy as practice
: an investigation into sensemaking and identity

  • Lisa Day

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisPhD


This is an interpretive, single-site process study of strategic change based on qualitative data from a real-time, two-year observation of an internal merger between an Architecture faculty and an Art & Design faculty. It takes a ‘Strategy as Practice’ (SAP) perspective which considers strategy to be something that people do, a form of ‘strategising’. Consistent with a SAP approach, the analysis explores change through a sensemaking and identity lens. The data were analysed through three different research questions with each presented as a separate thesis chapter. The three areas are: how sensemaking and sensegiving in meetings can help sustain strategic change over time, how deliberate organisational identity change can be facilitated and how identity work occurs during organisational change. The meetings chapter develops a process model of how senior executives sustain strategic change through their sensemaking and sensegiving in meetings. It extends understanding of sensegiving competence through identification of the need to employ both processual and influencing skills. The organisational identity chapter shows that intentional organisational change is a phased process in which new claims are set out and communicated discursively and then meanings develop experimentally, through work practices and physical changes which are deliberately facilitated by the change leader to encourage recipient meaning-making in line with the claims. The identity work chapter extends existing knowledge of how identity work occurs over time, particularly the impact of non-discursive practices on individual identity work. It shows how top-down organisational change, which invokes anxiety and challenges individual identity, can lead to positive outcomes for the change process and be identity enhancing for individuals. As a whole, this thesis contributes to knowledge of Strategy as Practice, particularly through its focus on top manager sensegiving and recipient response, strategic episodes over time and non-discursive aspects of sensemaking and identity.
Date of Award10 May 2017
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath
SupervisorMichael Mayer (Supervisor) & Julia Balogun (Supervisor)


  • strategy as practice
  • strategic change
  • sensemaking
  • Identity

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