Class 5: Leading, Sensemaking and the Future

Provided by Jochen Koch, European University Viadrina

Guiding question: How do leaders make sense of crisis? How do they attempt to “give sense” to their followers in the light of uncertainty and how do they cope with the challenges of open and transparent communication in crisis situations?


Slides: PDF / PPT

Core readings

Wenzel, M., Krämer, H., Koch, J., Reckwitz, A. (2020). Future and Organization Studies: On the rediscovery of a problematic temporal category in organizations. In: Organization Studies, in print. PDF via journal

Cornelissen, J. P., Mantere, S., & Vaara, E. (2014). The contraction of meaning: The combined effect of communication, emotions, and materiality on sensemaking in the Stockwell shooting. Journal of Management Studies, 51(5), 699-736. PDF

Contemporary news article

Davidson, J. (2020). The Leader of the Free World Gives a Speech, and She Nails It. NY Mag, March 18. 
Momtaz, R. (2020). Emmanuel Macron on Coronavirus: ‘We’re at War’. Politico, March 16.

Post-lecture assignment

Compare the two recommendations formulated by the management consultants Egon Zehnder and McKinsey for leaders to deal with the Corona crisis. What are the similarities and differences in the recommendations and to what extent do they address the tension between necessary uncertainty absorption and open communication of uncertainty? (about 500 words)

Background readings

Weick, K. E. (1988). Enacted sensemaking in crisis situations. Journal of Management Studies, 25(4), 305–317. PDF

Weick, K. E. (1996). Drop your tools: An allegory for organizational studies. Administrative Science Quarterly, 301-313. PDF

Background videos

The influence-process-model of leadership (“Das Einflussprozessmodell”) 

The identity theory of leadership (“Die Identitätstheorie der Führung”)

(English subtitles will be added soon)