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'Epistemes' and structures of sense-making in organisational life

O'Leary, M. and Chia, R. (2007) 'Epistemes' and structures of sense-making in organisational life. Journal of Management Inquiry, 16 (4). pp. 392-406. ISSN 1056-4926

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Abstract

The issue of organizational sense-making has been much researched and written about in recent years. Yet, how structurally such sense-making attempts are facilitated remains relatively unexamined. In this article, the authors explore the underlying processes to be accomplished, sustained, and extended. 'Episteme,' the underlying code of a culture or epoch that governs its language, its logic, its schemas of perception, its values and its techniques, etc., is what makes individual and collective meaning and sense-making possible. In this article, the authors identify three epistemes of organizational sense-making for legitimizing and justifying managerial actions and decision-making within the context of a family-owned newspaper called the Courier. This is done through a study of the justifying narratives employed in the collective sense-making process.