Rationality, experiences or identity work? : Sensemaking of emotionally tense experiences of organizational sustainability
Sarna, B., Onkila, T., & Mäkelä, M. (2022). Rationality, experiences or identity work? : Sensemaking of emotionally tense experiences of organizational sustainability. Social Responsibility Journal, 18(8), 1692-1707. https://doi.org/10.1108/srj-05-2021-0205
Published inSocial Responsibility Journal
DisciplineSustainable BusinessYritysten ympäristöjohtaminenResurssiviisausyhteisöKestävä liiketoiminta ja talous (painoala)Basic or discovery scholarshipSustainable BusinessCorporate Environmental ManagementSchool of Resource WisdomSustainable Business and Economy (focus area)Basic or discovery scholarship
© Emerald Publishing Limited
Purpose Although emotional tensions related to organizational sustainability have been identified, little is known about how employees aim to resolve such situations. This study aims to explore how employees use sensemaking to resolve emotionally tense situations concerning organizational sustainability. Design/methodology/approach The authors studied a case in which, while employees attached positive emotions to organizational sustainability, external stakeholders viewed it negatively. Specifically, the study analyzed how employees used sensemaking to resolve such tense experiences and how this sensemaking eventually influenced their actions. To this end, the authors interviewed 25 employees at an energy company who had experience participating in its sustainability work. Findings The analysis revealed three sensemaking mechanisms for resolving emotional tensions related to organizational sustainability caused by discrepancies between external reputation and internal personal experience: rational sensemaking, experiential sensemaking and identity work. The complexity of sensemaking was reflected in the mixed-use of these three mechanisms, as employees constantly moved from one to another. Originality/value This study demonstrates employees’ tendency to defend their positive emotions about their organization’s sustainability in tense situations. It further provides insights into related sensemaking processes and shows how they can result in different levels of action. ...
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- Kauppakorkeakoulu 
Related funder(s)Academy of Finland
Funding program(s)Strategic research programmes, AoF
Additional information about fundingThis work was supported by the Tekes (the Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation) under grand No. [40169/10 and 40170/10], the Finnish Work Environment Fund, and the Strategic Research Council at the Academy of Finland under grand no. .
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