Journal of Contingencies and Crisis Management（简称JCCM）计划推出专刊，主题聚焦危机协同研判。专刊由清华大学公共管理学院长聘副教授钟玮担任客座编辑。有意投稿的学术同行，可在2024年1月1日前提交计划书。
Journal of Contingencies and Crisis Management Special Issue
Call for Papers
Joint Sensemaking and Collective Awareness in Crisis Management
Wei Zhong, Associate Professor, Tsinghua University
As crisis management scholars and practitioners, we have increasingly realized that the cascading and compounding impacts of current crises could quickly put all sectors under extreme pressure and challenge their management capacities. Still, the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic profoundly alerts us how an unpredictable and incomprehensible event can easily pose overwhelming threats to entire human society (Ansell et al., 2023; Perrow, 1984). Efforts to cope with crises, especially large-scale ones, are commonly organized through an integrated approach (Comfort et al., 2012; Hu et al., 2022), whereby multi-level and multi-sectoral organizations, as well as the public, foster collaborative partnerships and co-produce effective and legitimate crises responses. Such an approach has long directed crisis management attention to the coordination and cooperation among involved actors. However, as prior studies consistently highlight, prompt and effective collaboration requires a shared understanding on the crisis circumstance (Boin & Renaud, 2013; Stephens et al., 2020; Turner, 1978). Few studies have paid attention to this pressing issue of joint sensemaking or collective awareness in crisis management (Lu & Xue, 2016).
Since Weick’s (1969) pioneering work, considerable literature has examined sensemaking in organizations (Colville et al., 2013; Maitlis & Christianson, 2014). Weick et al. (2005) described sensemaking as “the experience of being thrown into an ongoing unknowable, unpredictable streaming of experience in search of answers to the question ‘what’s the story?’… ‘Now what should I do?’” (p.410). The basic idea of sensemaking is that an organization’s everyday cosmologies are vulnerable to disruption caused by “ecological changes” (Weick, 1969, p.130) in its circumstances. Ecological changes bring about ambiguity, uncertainty, and equivocality, reconfiguring the world as organizational actors know it. As organizational actors feel a sudden loss of meaning in this “cosmology episode” (Weick, 1993, p.632), they venture into the changed and unfamiliar circumstances to reinterpret their surroundings.
The sensemaking process is triggered by actors’ recognition of ecological changes and dynamically evolves as a cosmology event—the cause of ecological changes—unfolds. The core of sensemaking lies in “respectful interaction” (Weick, 1993, p.642). Organizational actors should engage in moment-to-moment interaction in a trustful, honest, and self-respectful way. Such interactions enable organizational actors to collectively construct their reality, developing shared situational awareness, clarifying their roles in the integrated group, and crafting expectations about their actions and resulting consequences (Weick et al., 2005). The communication, leadership, and structure within an organization are crucial to facilitate or constrain respectful interaction. In particular, Weick (1993) argues that timely, inquiring, and advocational information sharing complements and operationalizes the spirit of trustful, honest, and self-respectful interactions.
Weick’s sensemaking theory provides important insights for diverse actors to collectively navigate through crisis circumstances. Unforeseen and inconceivable crises are cosmology events, introducing ecological changes and presenting organizations with disturbance and disorder (Lu & Xue, 2016; Maitlis & Sonenshein, 2010). These ecological changes disrupt organizations’ routines and astonish organizational actors by depriving their existing understanding of the world (Weick, 1988; Weick et al., 2005). Ecological changes cannot be addressed via normal operations and call for adaptive and innovative collaboration among involved actors to manage the emerging challenges in evolving and uncertain circumstances (Ansell et al., 2023; Weick, 1988).
Organizational actors’ effective collaboration prerequires their recognition of ecological changes and the fostering and dynamic maintenance of a common view or awareness of crisis situation. Questions, such as “what ‘the hell’ is going on?”, “What happened?”, and “What is the story”, are frequently asked by each actor as a crisis occurs and evolves (Colville et al., 2013). Joint sensemaking considers recognition of ecological changes as part of the process while facilitating cognition alignment and enhancing mutual respect and trust among diverse actors (Eisenberg, 1990). The created and reenacted shared sense and meaning of crisis situation serve as a coherent set of beliefs about all actors’ form and outcomes of their involvement in the crisis management process, which further elicits voluntary self-control and integrated cooperation (Meyer, 1982).
Despite the considerable promise joint sensemaking holds for crisis management, there are some fundamental issues surrounding this crucial process. After all, challenges of joint sensemaking are multiplied in crisis contexts, especially when the crisis calls for multi-level, multi-actor, and multi-sectoral responses, and it is hardly easy for large numbers of diverse actors to interact in a constructive and informed manner (Boin & Renaud, 2013). As prior research observes, interactions are not simple or occur spontaneously, requiring the notion of craftmanship to generate desirable outcomes (Bass, 1960; Klijun & Koppenjan, 2000; Peters, 2015). Yet, it is not clear how the interaction among actors could be facilitated in order to foster and maintain their collective awareness of crisis situation. In particular, Weick (1993) believes that communication operationalizes interaction, which implies an attention on the timely and constructive sharing and synthesis of information from different actors. These issues could become more salient in a system or team that is newly and provisionally established for crisis responses. Actors in this case rarely work together before and are unfamiliar with one another. The “new organization syndrome” might hinder their interactions and communication (Stern, 1997).
Another challenge of joint sensemaking concerns the underlying mechanism of this dynamic process and its consequences for crisis management. On the one hand, we need to uncover the forces that facilitate or undermine joint sensemaking. For instance, sensemaking focuses more on cognitive complexity and less on social, political, and historical contexts (Lu & Xue, 2016; Weber & Glynn, 2006). It is worthwhile to examine whether and how a variety of contextual factors affect joint sensemaking in crises. On the other hand, the need to understand how and why joint sensemaking affects or is affected by crisis management actions (e.g., cooperation and coordination) and consequences (e.g., management effectiveness and public reputation) is critically important to both the sensemaking and crisis management literature (Weick, 1988; Weick et al., 2005). There are also underexplored issues associated with crisis leadership, crisis planning, and crisis responders’ training and expertise from the lenses of joint sensemaking.
This special issue aims to advance our understanding of the complex issues of joint sensemaking in crisis management. We seek proposes that contribute to further developing research into what the concept of joint sensemaking could offer in terms of managing crises both effectively and legitimately. We are interested in theoretical development, practice-oriented observations, and empirical work adopting qualitative, quantitative, and integrated approaches. We also welcome submissions from diverse disciplinary perspectives that address joint sensemaking or collective awareness and crisis management. We anticipate proposals that shed light on the following topics:
₋ Conceptual development of joint sensemaking to inform present and future crisis
₋ Dynamic process of joint sensemaking throughout crisis management
₋ Measuring and managing joint sensemaking in crisis management
₋ Drivers, outcomes, and behavioral implications of joint sensemaking in crisis
₋ Forces that affect joint sensemaking in crisis management and the underlying
₋ Links between joint sensemaking, other crisis management functions or tasks, and
₋ Challenges of joint sensemaking in organizations newly and provisionally
established for crisis management
₋ Interactions among actors at multiple levels and across different sectors in joint
sensemaking process in crisis management
₋ Information sharing and synthesis among actors at multiple levels and across different
sectors in joint sensemaking process in crisis management
₋ Role of Information and Communication Technology in fostering and maintaining joint
sensemaking in crisis management
₋ Role of leadership in fostering and maintaining joint sensemaking in crisis
₋ Role of planning in fostering and maintaining joint sensemaking in crisis
₋ Role of science and evidence in fostering and maintaining joint sensemaking in
₋ Role of professionalism, training, and expertise in fostering and maintaining joint
sensemaking in crisis management
Timeline and Editorial Process
Authors should submit a proposal of no more than 1,000 words, including references, to Wei Zhong (email@example.com) via e-mail by January 1, 2024. The guest editor will undertake a desk review. Full manuscripts of accepted proposals are due by August 1, 2024 and will undergo the regular blind review process as required by Journal of Contingencies and Crisis Management. Acceptance of proposals does not guarantee publication of manuscripts. The blind review process will be completed no later than May 1, 2025. Final accepted manuscripts are due by July 1, 2025, and online first publication is expected approximately three months after acceptance of manuscripts.