Ambiguous artifacts : exploring sensemaking towards organizational identification
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Scholars have long sought to understand how professionals construct their identity relative to the organizations in which they work. Organizations put in place loose and flexible structures to be responsive to emerging opportunities and challenges and to encourage and manage organizational and industry changes. New organizations may be especially likely to adopt unorthodox or intentionally ambiguous structures to set themselves apart and address problems that motivate their founding and diversify their structures. Research in turn needs to understand how organizational members accommodate uncertain and shifting organizational structures by negotiating the personal, professional, and organizational aspects of their identity through communicative sensemaking. I contribute to the study of organizational identity and sensemaking processes through a qualitative case study that explores how individuals construct their identity in the absence of conventional sensegiving artifacts. Discursively vague job titles, indefinite and inapplicable job descriptions, and unclear and ambiguous organizational structures prompt continuous sensemaking. Analysis of interview data and field notes uncovered alternate schemas and resulting work practices individuals engage in as they negotiate their organizational identity to cope with uncertainty and ambiguity.