Mening i spil: Om meningsskabelse og ledelse i strukturreformens tegn

Michael Hansen Bager & Torben Frølich

Student thesis: Master executive thesis


This Masters thesis analyzes sensemaking within extreme circumstances in the Danish public sector, represented through a case analysis of the merger between the two municipalities Vaerloese and Farum into The municipality of Furesoe. As an introduction we motivate this field of interest by describing different views on the meaning or lack of meaning in The Structural Reform that was used as an occasion for merging the two municipalities. Thereafter we present a theoretical framework on meaning and sensemaking, where Karl E. Weick constitutes the overall frame for our theoretical approach. We follow his ideas of exploring closer, the substance of sensemaking, by linking his concept of ‘minimal structures’. We do that by prolonging two of his six minimal structures Third-order control and Stories to a more operational approach, than Weicks rather abstract theories of sensemaking. Third-order control is prolonged with a radical perspective on how social technologies (e.g. Value based management) influence upon the organization and its sensemaking. Stories are (naturally) prolonged with a narrative perspective, showing plots and genres. This framework is constructed to analyze tensions between the results of the intended sensemaking and the local sensemaking in the municipality of Furesoe. The intended sensemaking is constructed through an analysis in three parts: Service strategies as a governmental or central intent to guide action in municipalities, the Service Strategy in The Municipality of Furesoe and finally the narrative from the executive manager of the merger between the two former municipalities of Farum and Vaerloese – now Furesoe. Whereas the local sensemaking is analyzed through a primarily narrative approach, asking the questions: is there one or more genre present, how is time perceived in relation to the merger, is fore-shadowing and side-shadowing present, to which extent is the sensemaking process retrospective and finally what is the local sensemaking of the Service Strategy and other organizational technologies? We sum up the differences or mismatch between the two areas of sensemaking in order to describe the tensions between the two areas of sensemaking. We describe the tensions between the two areas of sensemaking as separate parts of a puzzle which is not compatible, nor complete. These tensions constitute a field of tension in which management and sensemaking is to be performed. Thus we conclude our analysis by giving recommendations on how management can be performed under these circumstances and how to build an organization that is resistant to the collapse of meaning. These conclusions reflect the discovery that Danish municipalities are robust to changes, that the ability to make sense locally is both strong and creative and hence very productive.

EducationsMaster of Public Administration, (Executive Master Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2009
Number of pages111