Handbook of Research on Management Ideas and Panaceas
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Handbook of Research on Management Ideas and Panaceas

Adaptation and Context

Edited by Anders Örtenblad

Over time management ideas and panaceas have been presented alternately as quick fix cures for all corporate ills and the emperor’s new clothes, beset by flaws and problems. This Handbook provides a different approach, suggesting that management ideas and panaceas should not be either adopted or rejected outright, but gives guidance in the art of assessing and applying management ideas and panaceas to various situations and contexts.
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Chapter 24: Managerial panaceas, sensemaking and identity construction in contemporary organizations

Charles-Clemens Rüling


The sensemaking perspective holds that the adoption and adaptation of managerial panaceas are both triggered and influenced by processes of meaning creation. More specifically, the chapter discusses the role played by managerial panaceas in the context of collective sensemaking in contemporary organizations. After introducing the sensemaking perspective and the idea of discursively constructed shared meaning in organizations more generally, the chapter highlights two different situations in which panacea-related sensemaking occurs in organizations: first, panaceas as ‘triggers’ or occasions for organizational sensemaking, and second, panaceas as ‘ingredients’ that provide interpretive resources for sensemaking. The chapter illustrates both roles of panaceas as well as some of their paradoxical consequences on the basis of an empirical study of managers’ narratives of panacea adoption in contemporary organizations. The chapter concludes with a brief discussion of the consequences of adopting a sensemaking perspective for the adoption and adaptation of managerial panaceas.

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