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Title: Making sense in testing times : a narrative analysis of organisational change & learning
Author: Reissner, Stefanie Constanze
Awarding Body: Durham University
Current Institution: Durham University
Date of Award: 2004
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The main themes of this thesis focus on organisational change and learning in different geo-political contexts, bound together in a common moment of globalisation. These topics are explored through three case-studies from the manufacturing sector, one each from the United Kingdom, the Republic of South Africa and the Russian Federation. The project, on which this thesis is based. had a qualitative and interpretive design and took a comparative, narrative approach. It argues on the basis of this comparison, that organisational learning has to be related to the wider environment in which companies operate; individualistic models of learning are inadequate to explain the complex processes involved in learning in organisations. The thesis demonstrates that learning is most productively viewed as a form of sensemaking, which is particularly important in periods of change. This way of thinking about work-based learning subsumes all previous analytical descriptions of learning at work and all methods of promoting it, as sub-sets of a more generic process: making sense of experience. This approach of conceiving learning draws attention to the fact that learning involves the whole person, their sense of self, their understanding of the past and their grasp of the skills and relationships involved in their jobs. The concept of sense-making is explored at three levels - the macro-level with a focus on globalisation, the meso- or organisational level with an emphasis on strategic change and the micro- or personal level highlighting individual experiences of change and learning at the workplace. Narrative analysis is a powerful tool in organisational research to recover accounts of learning because it is through stories that people construct and make sense of the world. The comparative frame to this study highlights the cultural, historical and situated nature of narratives. This thesis shows that globalisation and strategic change are not impersonal phenomena, but become real and meaningful to everybody in an organisation through stories. Comparisons help to make otherwise tacit issues explicit.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Law Law enforcement Prisons International trade