Making sense with institutions: Context, thought and action in Karl Weick's theory

Klaus Weber*, Mary Ann Glynn

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

385 Scopus citations


Karl Weick's sensemaking perspective has proven to be a central influence on process theories of organizing. Yet, one persistent criticism levelled at his work has been a neglect of the role of larger social and historical contexts in sensemaking. We address this critique by showing how institutional context is a necessary part of sensemaking. We propose that there are salient but unexplored connections between the institutional and sensemaking perspectives. We explain how three specific mechanisms - priming, editing and triggering - bring institutional context into processes of sensemaking, beyond a more conventional notion of internalized cognitive constraint. Our contribution seeks to be forward-looking as much as reflective, addressing a critique of one of Karl Weick's key theoretical contributions and offering amendments that extend its reach.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1639-1660
Number of pages22
JournalOrganization Studies
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2006


  • Context
  • Institutional theory
  • Mechanisms
  • Sensemaking

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Strategy and Management
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management
  • Management of Technology and Innovation


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