Anticipating the End: Exploring Future-oriented Sensemaking of Change through Metaphors

Signe Bruskin*, Elisabeth Naima Mikkelsen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to explore whether there is a link between retrospective and prospective sensemaking by analyzing metaphors of past and potential future changes.
Design/methodology/approach: The article draws on interview data from employees, team managers and middle managers at an IT department of a Nordic bank.
Findings: The study found that organizational members' sensemaking of changes in the past were characterized by trivializing metaphors. In contrast, future-oriented sensemaking of potential changes were characterized by emotionally charged metaphors of uncertainty, war and the End, indicating that the organizational members anticipating a gloomier future.
Research limitations/implications: These findings might be limited to the organizational context of an IT department of a bank with IT professionals having an urge for control and sharing a history of a financial sector changing dramatically the last decade.
Originality/value: This article contributes to the emerging field of future-oriented sensemaking by showing what characterize past and future-oriented sensemaking of changes at a bank. Further, the paper contributes with an empirical study unpacking how organizational members anticipate an undesired future which might not be grounded in retrospective sensemaking.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Organizational Change Management
Issue number7
Pages (from-to)1401-1415
Number of pages15
Publication statusPublished - 2020

Bibliographical note

Published online: 21 July 2020.


  • Organizational change
  • Emotions
  • Metaphors
  • Bank
  • Future perfect tense
  • Prospective sensemaking

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