The meaning of efficiency in the Danish police: An inquiry into sensemaking, taken-for-granted logics and organizational change

Birgitte Frost Nøhr

Student thesis: Master thesis


This thesis sets out to explore how members of the Danish Police make sense of the topic of efficiency and the efficiency goal of their strategy 2011-15: “we focus on the core tasks and increase the quality and efficiency in our work”. Furthermore, the paper discusses indications of organizational change, what it might take to achieve transformational change, and if/how leaders or other actors may intervene in such sensemaking and change. Based on interviews with members of the Danish Police, and by applying a grounded theory approach and Weick‟s sensemaking theory, the paper explores the cues, frames, experiences and logics that go into producing meaning. Four synthesized meaning structures are presented that illustrate how organizational members frame and make sense of the topic of efficiency and the strategic efficiency goal: Efficiency as money and resources, Efficiency as doing the job well, Efficiency as focusing on the core tasks, and Efficiency goal as strategy and change. Furthermore, the paper highlights that certain parts of the strategy text – process and production concepts – are ignored and provides possible reasons for this. The link between individual and organizational sensemaking is established, and the paper points out that shared meaning is not a prerequisite for collective action, however that organizational action and capability to initiate and/or absorb change may be influenced and constrained by the current framing and meaning. Grounded in institutional logics theory, and following a discussion of how sensemaking and institutional logics theory may complement each other, the paper discusses that transformation-nal change to organizational thinking and acting requires reflexivity and rebalancing or redefinition of taken-for-granted logics. Such logics become particularly visible when they contradict each other and these contradictions can be used to leverage change. Contradicting logics in the sensemaking related to efficiency, e.g. related to accountability, leadership and identity, and the level of reflexivity of them among the organizational members, are discussed. Lastly, it is discussed if/how leaders or other actors may intervene in sensemaking and change. Academic ideas such as sensegiving, institutional entrepreneurship and theories related to interaction and plurivocality are reviewed and synthesized into a web of tools and approaches for leaders and others to consider using to successfully facilitate and achieve long-run change. In the hermeneutic tradition, the paper does not claim to offer an objective, absolute truth however it offers to provide insight to a repertoire of potential sensemaking related to effici-ency and the strategic efficiency goal among organizational members of the Danish Police.

EducationsMSc in Strategy, Organization and Leadership, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2011
Number of pages99