Prospective sensemaking and thinking infrastructures in a large-scale humanitarian crisis

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Abstract

In this study, we explore how thinking infrastructures can orchestrate collective sensemaking in unstable and socially contested environments, such as large-scale humanitarian crises. In particular, drawing from recent interest in the role of artefacts and infrastructures in sensemaking processes, we examine the evaluative underpinnings of prospective sensemaking as groups attempt to develop novel understandings about a desired but ambiguous set of future conditions. To explore these theoretical concerns, we conducted a detailed case study of the unfolding challenges of managing a large-scale humanitarian crisis response. Our study offers two contributions. Firstly, we develop a theorization of the process through which performance evaluation systems can serve as thinking infrastructures in the collaborative development of new understandings in unstable environments. Secondly, our study sheds light on the practices that support prospective sensemaking through specific features of thinking infrastructures, and we unpack how prospective and retrospective forms of sensemaking may interact in such processes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)85-112
JournalResearch in the Sociology of Organizations
Volume62
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 7 Aug 2019

Keywords

  • prospective sensemaking 2. Thinking infrastructure 3. Humanitarian crisis 4. Performance evaluation
  • thinking infrastructure
  • humanitarian crisis
  • performance evaluation
  • humanitarian emergency
  • crisis management
  • material artefact

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