Sensing Organizational Readiness For an Ambiguous Future: An Ethnography From the hospitality Industry

Kristian Sveen

Student thesis: Master thesis


This thesis explores the effect of disruptive technologies and the sharing economy on the hospitality industry. In order to conduct the study, Radisson Blu was presented as the case company being studied by applying ethnographic techniques. Airbnb was selected as the main disruptive technology with the highest effect on the industry, while Expedia was chosen as a secondary disruptive technology that has influenced the industry over the past two decades. Despite the great success of these companies, hoteliers keep ignoring the effect they have on the hospitality industry. Therefore, this thesis also explores readiness among business as usual companies to face disruptive technologies and ambiguous industry changes. To study the phenomenon, the question of investigation was “how do actors make sense of the emergence of disruptive technologies?” In order to properly answer the question, sensemaking theory, with an emphasis on the sensemaking process suggested by Hernes et al. (2015), was applied. Additionally, to challenge Hernes et al. (2015), organizational readiness by Weiner (2009) and organizational learning by March & Olsen (1975) were applied as supporting theories. The combination of these theories resulted in interesting findings. The first finding was that by exploring the nature of narratives both in the internal and external environment of the organization, i.e. both staff and stakeholders, this enabled me to find competing narratives traceable through the sensemaking process. These competing narratives created disconnections in the relations between actors, and may explain lack of commitment among staff. Consequently, this led to the next main finding; that organizational learning seems to be a missing link in the current sensemaking theory, as this enables understanding of both internal and external sensemaking among actors, hence contribute to enhance the sensemaking process. Lastly, the thesis suggests that sensemaking and learning in conjunction function as mutually reinforcing theories to apply in the search to explore and establish readiness.

EducationsMSc in Strategy, Organization and Leadership, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2015
Number of pages86