Exploring team mental model dynamics during strategic change implementation in professional service organizations : a sensemaking perspective
Faculty of Applied Economics
European management journal. - Oxford
, p. 728-744
University of Antwerp
The purpose of this paper is to provide a deeper process understanding of team mental model dynamics in a context of strategic change implementation. To do so, we adopt a change recipient sensemaking perspective with the objective to identify salient determinants of team mental model dynamics. We aim to contribute to the managerial and organizational cognition literature by identifying critical micro-foundations that shape team cognition and interpretation processes during strategic change implementation. This adds to the fields understanding of the under-researched collective dimension of strategic processes in general and strategic change implementation more specifically. Through an explorative case study conducted at a professional service organization, we identified five determinants of team mental model dynamics: coherence between ostensive and performative aspects of organizational routines, equivocality of expectations, dominance of organizational discourse, shifts in organizational identification and cross-understanding between departmental thought worlds. Case findings reveal that implementation processes of strategic change become intricate and difficult if change recipient sensemaking is not effectively acted upon. The five determinants identified require adequate managerial attention in order to avoid slipping into organizational inertia. As a consequence, professional workers are unable to drop their tools and fail to integrate the strategic change effort in updated team mental models.