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The changing power of 'explanations': directors, academics and their sensemaking from 1989 to 2000

Pye, Annie ORCID: 2002. The changing power of 'explanations': directors, academics and their sensemaking from 1989 to 2000. Journal of Management Studies 39 (7) , pp. 907-925. 10.1111/1467-6486.00317

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This paper is based on empirical research conducted with directors in large UK organizations, first in 1987–89, and again in 1998–2000. While the time frame has changed, the focus of the inquiry has remained constant – how do you ‘run’ a large organization – and data gathered reflect significant changes over time as to how the question is answered. This paper addresses one particular aspect of this complex material: the changing power of practitioner and academic explanations across the decade, highlighted by comparing and contrasting this data and its analysis over time. The paper illustrates a surprising degree of consistency (in contrast to 1987–89 findings) in practitioners’ contemporary explanations of their organizing: all talk of strategic focus, shareholder value and corporate governance, phrases previously never mentioned. This reflects a variety of changes across the decade, including an important concentration of power amongst investors. As well as the methodological implications of ‘repeating’ this study, the changing power of academics’ explanations ‘on’ organization is also discussed as conceptual frameworks gain and lose their resonance with the times. The paper concludes that sensemaking (Weick, 1995) offers the most appropriate perspective by which such shifts in the power of explanations may best be appreciated.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Business (Including Economics)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HF Commerce
Publisher: Blackwell Publishers Ltd
ISSN: 00222380
Last Modified: 01 Nov 2022 10:13

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