Intuiting process as sensing plus sensemaking

Bas, Alina and Dörfler, Viktor and Sinclair, Marta (2019) Intuiting process as sensing plus sensemaking. In: AoM 2019: 79th Annual Meeting of the Academy of Management. Boston, MA, 2019-08-09 - 2019-08-13. (

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The literature on intuition within the management scholarship identified six necessary and sufficient characteristics that define intuition: intuition is rapid, alogical, holistic, tacit, has an intrinsic certainty, and is spontaneous (cf Dane & Pratt, 2007; Dörfler & Ackermann, 2012; Kahneman, 2003: 698; Sadler-Smith, 2008: 13). These features are grounded in empirical research (predominantly interviews) with practitioners, including decision takers and creative problem solvers. However, we found additional evidence suggesting that intuition can also be produced on cue (Beck, 2011; Day, 1997). This puzzling discrepancy between existing academic literature and marginalized accounts of some practitioners has prompted us to examine two contradictory views of intuition: (1) the spontaneous nature of intuition, i.e. emerging into consciousness without deliberate effort, and (2) the intentional use of intuition, i.e. intuition being deliberately conjured. As a result of problematizing the observed phenomenon, we tentatively propose a two-stage model for the process of intuiting, suggesting that it consists of sensing and sensemaking. The proposed model helps resolve the apparent contradiction between spontaneous and intentional perspectives on intuition. The model also offers a better understanding of expert vs. non-expert intuition, a hot topic in the ongoing intuition discussion in the management scholarship, by exploring the role expertise plays in sensing and sensemaking phases of intuiting. Furthermore, this model can contribute to the understanding of whether or not intuition development training can be effective in sensing ‘intuitive signals’ and making better use of intuition through making sense of those intuitive signals. Our underlying argument suggests that some parts of the intuiting process can be made intentional. For instance, developing physical and emotional self-awareness may improve responsiveness to sensing intuitive flashes of awareness, and increasing domain expertise may improve making use of intuitive flashes in the sensemaking phase of intuiting.