A Sensemaking Perspective on the Breakdown of Trust in an Acquisition Process



Whilst studies of trust in organisations undergoing M&A are prevalent and the benefits of trust for M&As are understood, little is still known about processes where initial trust turns into distrust. To partially bridge this research gap, we analyse a revealing case from a sense making perspective. In particular, we focus on the dynamics of managerial sense giving and employee sense making over time. Our real-time longitudinal case analysis illuminates a pattern in which trust turns into doubt, disillusionment and eventually distrusts. We develop a process model that helps to better understand how initial senses of trust may turn into distrust within different relational domains, the triggers of shifts in employee sense making, and the impact of managerial sense giving on these dynamics