Why some Strategic Ideas Take off and Others Do Not: Uncovering the Affective Dynamics in Strategic Sensemaking



Why do some strategic ideas take off and others do not is a crucial question in research on strategic change. To add another piece to this puzzle, we adopt a sensemaking lens to elucidate the micro-level affective dynamics in strategy meetings. On the basis of a longitudinal video-ethnographic study focusing on producer meetings, we identify and elaborate on four forms of sensemaking dynamics characterized by a specific kind of group affect: cacophony, dissonance, consonance, or resonance. In particular, we argue that it is only in the case of resonance that strategic ideas tend to take off. Our analysis also demonstrates the importance of emotional experiences in creating virtuous or vicious circles in subsequent sensegiving and sensemaking. It adds to research on strategic change by increasing understanding of why some strategic ideas take off and others do not, and to research on emotions in sensemaking in general by elucidating the role of group affect, emotional contagion, and emotional experiences in and across episodes of sensegiving and sensemaking.