Pragmatic Apparatus – Space and Sensemaking in High-Reliability Task Contexts: Insights from a maritime mass rescue exercise

Cited by Lee Sonogan

Mass Arctic Rescue Exercise Begins

Abstract by Norbert Steigenberger, Thomas Lübcke

The spatial environment shapes sensemaking in complex situations. While we know that actors in high-reliability task contexts often have a certain degree of control over their spatial environment, it remains unclear how they enact it and which effect this has on their sensemaking. In this paper, we use micro-ethnographic video data from two maritime mass rescue exercises to fill this gap. We find that actors that are under a high cognitive load enact space incidentally and fail to re-enact their spatial environment when problems arise. Instead, actors engage in micro-activities that temporarily mitigate the problems created by their space enactment. We develop a model on space and sensemaking in high-reliability task contexts that distinguishes between unenacted, enacted and lived space. Our findings point towards nested sensemaking, where the enacted spatial environment becomes part of the overall ‘story’ of an operation. Our findings have implications for our understanding of space and sensemaking in high-reliability task contexts, provide opportunities to improve high-reliability organizations’ performance and add to research on space and organising.

Publication: Organization Studies (Peer-Reviewed Journal)

Pub Date: Aug 20, 2021 Doi:

Keywords: high-reliability organisations, micro-ethnography, sensemaking, space, spatiality, video-ethnography (Plenty more sections and references in this research article)

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