Sensemaking under Extreme Circumstances: A Single Case Study

Andri Úlriksson

Student thesis: Master thesis

Abstract

In October 2008 the financial sector in Iceland collapsed almost overnight. The Prime Minister at the time, Geir H. Haarde led the government trough the most difficult financial era in later times in Iceland. Every decision Mr. Haarde took would affect the whole nation tremendously; the speed of economic recovery, the depth of the crises and the nation’s international relations were only a few factors his decisions would affect. Leadership under these conditions can be said to be under extreme circumstances. Sensemaking is a process of rationalizing the given context, questioning and reflecting on a given situation in an attempt to reduce confusion. This paper attempts to use the sensemaking framework to study the decisions made by Mr. Haarde under these aforementioned circumstances. It gives a theoretical overview of the concept of sensemaking and analyzes the factors that describe the essence of the framework. In the academic literature identifying the core attributes of leadership on the one hand and management on the other has been very controversial. The paper emphasizes on crises management which can be said to be somewhat intertwined between these two concepts. It attempts to link leadership and crises management to the sensemaking framework. This is done with the help of a single case study of the leadership of Mr. Haarde, particularly under the extreme circumstances of the recent financial crises in Iceland.

EducationsMSc in Strategy, Organization and Leadership, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
LanguageEnglish
Publication date2012
Number of pages62