Doctoral Dissertation

17.8.2018 M.Sc. Jarmo Peltoniemi (Jy­väs­ky­lä Uni­ver­si­ty School of Busi­ness and Eco­no­mics, Management and Leadership)


17.8.2018 12:00 — 15:00

Location: Seminaarinmaki , S212
M.Sc. Jarmo Peltoniemi defends his doctoral dissertation in Management and Leadership "Kaiken keskellä – keskijohto strategisen muutoksen tekijänä ja kokijana”. Opponent Professor Anu Puusa (UEF) and Custos Professor Iiris Aaltio (University of Jyväskylä). The doctoral dissertation is held in Finnish.

This research focuses on the actions and perceptions of the middle managers during a strategic change. Over the years, strategic change and middle managers have been studied from various points of view. The importance of middle managers and their roles and actions have been argued both for and against. Most of the recent research emphasises the middle managers’ importance in strategic organizational change as mediators between the change initiators and the change recipients. However, there is less research on middle managers’ and subordinates’ sensemaking processes during a strategic organizational change, especially when identity, culture, artefacts, emotions and change resistance are considered.

The philosophical standpoint of this research is the postmodern worldview, which emphasises contingency and multivocality of events and phenomena. The core theoretical standpoint is Karl Weick’s sensemaking theory or sensemaking framework as it is called, as well. Other supporting theories include organizational culture, social identity, and strategic change theories. This is a multidisciplinary research, and it reaches to the areas of management and leadership, social psychology and organization sciences.

This qualitative research has its empirical basis in nine interviews conducted in a governmental organization during a strategic change. In the interviews, the middle managers discuss the strategic change, and their own actions and perceptions covering the five-year phase of the strategy implementation. In the analysis, the researcher uses both content analysis and discourse analysis. Through the discourse analysis, this research revealed nine different discourses. These nine discourses were eventually condensed into three collective discourses, which then have either supporting or debilitating influence on the desired strategic organizational change. The collective discourses form a phenomenon which the researcher calls hidden discourses. The three hidden discourses are the following: phenomena discourses, actor discourses and process discourses. The hidden discourses are not visible topics on the strategic change agenda of the top management, and neither are they a common topic in change discussions although hidden discourses are not too difficult to recognize in human interaction during the projects and efforts done for the strategic change.

The research opens a new point of view to all change agents to include hidden discourses to the strategic change agenda. The existence of the hidden discourses is prevailing and neglecting them slows down the implementation of the desired strategic change. The research also shows that identity, role and work of a middle manager are under continuous negotiation and scrutiny. New sensemaking processes continue to arise in organizations. Various sensemaking processes are interlinked all over the organization. These sensemaking processes highlight the phenomenon of everything being in the mode of becoming, and, in the end, the sensemaking of organizational culture enables, regulates and monitors middle managers’ sensemaking processes, which, in turn, are ignited by the actions done, and by the actions to be done for the change. If sensemaking does not support common action everything around is incomplete and vulnerable.

For further information: 

Jarmo Peltoniemi,
Communications Manager Liisa Harjula,, p. 040 805 4403

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