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The senior management sensemaking paradox

Abreu Pederzini, G. (2017) The senior management sensemaking paradox. Journal of Strategy and Management, 10 (3). pp. 360-371. ISSN 1755-425X. (doi:10.1108/JSMA-01-2016-0007) (KAR id:62884)


Purpose – From a complexity leadership theory perspective, leadership stops being seen as residing in an individual, and comes to be conceived as emergent from the myriad interactions among organizational members. However, in spite of this reconceptualization, organizations still have senior managers (e.g. the CEO) who are supposed to be leading, and thus, the purpose of this paper is to explore, then, who are these senior managers and what challenges emerge for them under a complexity leadership perspective.

Design/methodology/approach – This paper reviews first the literature on complexity theory and leadership, and then, conceptually develops an understanding of the challenges that senior managers might face under complexity.

Findings – The main finding and focus of the paper is that, from a complexity perspective, a paradox emerges regarding senior managers. On the one hand, senior managers might need to make sense of their limitations and the unowned essence of the processes that surround them. On the other hand, their subordinates might still insist on portraying senior managers as final causes of all success or failure.

Originality/value – This paper presents a novel way to re-conceptualize senior managers, under a complexity perspective, where they come to be perceived as trapped in a paradox of contradictory sensemaking processes: as they come to find out all that is outside of their control their subordinates insist on making them responsible for everything as if they had control.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1108/JSMA-01-2016-0007
Uncontrolled keywords: Complexity, leadership, senior management, complexity leadership, complex adaptive system, paradox
Subjects: H Social Sciences
Divisions: Divisions > Kent Business School - Division > Kent Business School (do not use)
Depositing User: Gerardo Abreu Pederzini
Date Deposited: 18 Aug 2017 08:01 UTC
Last Modified: 09 Dec 2022 04:27 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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Abreu Pederzini, G..

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