In this chapter, the method approach, empirical collection, analyzing and interpretation, as well as criticism towards literature and method are presented and argued for in relation to the purpose; which is to explore the sensemaking and sensegiving process during organizational change, with focus on middle managers.
Method is a tool or technique to find the answer of the purpose in order to create new knowledge (Holme & Solvang, 1997). Thus, method should be selected in relation to a theoretical problem to find the answer of the purpose. At Jönköping International Business School there is a research project within middle management led by Professor Tomas Müllern. Therefore, Professor Müllern and us agreed upon from the start that we would do a case study from a middle management perspective. Then, due to a good relationship with the Swedish energy company Vattenfall AB, its recent reorganization of the accounting de-partments created the empirical source for the case study. Since access, as Holloway (1997) emphasizes, to the case is important for creating a deep understanding and high quality of the thesis. After scanning previous research in the area of middle management, the ap-proach of sensemaking and sensegiving in relation to middle management was decided upon. Since sensemaking and sensegiving is a complex social process, interactive and highly based on individual interpretation, a qualitative approach was selected. Further, Holloway (1997) explains that qualitative approach captures the way individuals interpret and make sense of their social environment.
The Case: Centralization of Accounting within Vattenfall
The case was based on the centralization process of the Swedish organization Vattenfall AB’s formerly decentralized accounting departments, since according to Dyer et al. (1991, cited in Balogun and Johnson, 2005) a case study captures the contextual richness and complexity of sensemaking and sensegiving in change processes. The change resulted in one office in Uppsala and one in Jokkmokk, and it has affected the entire organization, es-pecially middle managers at the accounting departments according to Middle Manager 1 (see Appendix 1). The change process into the centralized organization Shared Service Ac-counting (SSA) officially started during the autumn in 2004 and was finished in April 2007, this al-so delimits the period of the studied case. Since the change took place during the last months, the organizational members had recent experiences of an intense sensegiving and sensemaking process, increasing the quality of the material gained from the interviews. Fur-ther, Stake (1995) claims that the interesting thing about cases is their uniqueness and commonality, thus one single case study was selected to create a coherent and thorough understanding of one delimitated sensemaking and sensegiving process, which the change process at Vattenfall constitute. Further, Stake (1995) emphasizes that selecting a case is to gain understanding from one case. For us, our choice of case was mostly based upon to create an understanding of the change at Vattenfall.
According to Darmer and Freytag (1995) the characteristics of the collected data differs in quantitative and qualitative research. A quantitative study is characterized by its many re-spondents and it explicability in numbers and other quantitative measurements. Therefore, this research method is not applicable to our study. In a qualitative study, on the contrary, few respondents provide the empirical platform in descriptive words and thereby Methodology depth to the analysis, and also Stake (1995) states that a qualitative research method gives multiple perspectives of a case study. Since our thesis is a case study of Vattenfall AB’s cen-tralization of its accounting departments, the qualitative approach is better suited, as we want to create a deeper understanding of the middle managers sensemaking and sensegiv-ing process.
Chalmers (1999) states that, in academic research there are two commonly used approaches towards the interplay between a theoretical background and an empirical problem formula-tion; deduction and induction. With a deductive approach theories make up the foundation of research and are tested to find whether they agree with reality or not, as seen in the first column in the Figure (3-1). In an inductive study, on the other hand, the reality is observed by the researchers and conclusions are drawn based on the empirical findings that either fit or disagree with current theories, as in the second column (Figure 3-1).
In the research process, the relation between empirical findings and theory is frequently en-twined. In our study, after choosing the theoretical field of middle managers we did an ini-tial interview with Middle Manager 1 (see Appendix 1), to create an understanding of the case, thus deduction. Afterwards, more research was done in the theoretical field relating to middle managers and change processes. At this point we discovered the sensemaking and sensegiving area, where more research was called for. Thus, relating to Figure 3-1 the ap-proach was induction. This research approach proceeded during the entire study; along with empirical data was collected, it became clear what theories that best suited our re-search. Hence, our research method, where there is alternation between theories and em-pirical findings is referred to as abduction (Patel and Davidsson, 2003), in column three in the Figure (3-1). The abduction approach is used to reveal hidden patterns and structures (Alvesson & Sköldberg, 2003), which is in line with conducting a case study to comprehend a sensemaking and sensegiving process.
2 Frame of Reference
2.2 Sensemaking and Sensegiving
2.3 The Knowledge Creation Model in the Organization
2.4 Change and Middle Management
2.5 Summarizing Model of the Frame of Reference
2.6 Research Questions
3.1 The Case: Centralization of Accounting within Vattenfall
3.2 Qualitative Approach
3.4 Collection of Empirical Material
3.5 Material Analysis
4 Empirical Findings
4.1 Vattenfall AB
4.2 Pilot Study Phase
4.3 Location Phase
4.4 Design Phase
5.1 The Roles and Purpose of the Change
5.2 The Sensemaking and Sensegiving Process
5.3 Old Schemata
5.4 Sensemaking Triggers
5.5 Linking Sensemaking Triggers to Social Processes of Interaction
5.6 Social Processes of Interaction
5.7 Developing Schemata
5.8 Emergent Change Outcomes
7 Final Discussion
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