Upside-Down Organizational Change: Sensemaking, sensegiving, and the new generation

Alexandra Rheinhardt, Dennis A. Gioia

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

11 Scopus citations


From a sensemaking perspective, organizational change is typically portrayed as being planned and driven by executives at the top of the organization, usually in response to external (environmental) pressures. We argue that because of dramatically changing workplace dynamics (i.e., characteristics of a new generation of employees, new technologies, and powerful new communication platforms), change is more likely to be influenced and initiated by employees at the bottom of the organization than ever before. The types and processes of change stemming from the bottom are likely to be qualitatively different from traditionally studied top-down changes. After reviewing the current state of the sensemaking/sensegiving literature on organizational change and organizational identity change, as well as addressing these new workplace trends, we discuss the process and put forth a model of “upside-down” organizational change. Our model draws upon and contributes to the literatures on sensemaking, sensegiving, organizational identity change and strategic change.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Oxford Handbook of Organizational Change and Innovation
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages29
ISBN (Electronic)9780198845973
StatePublished - Jan 1 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Economics, Econometrics and Finance(all)
  • General Business, Management and Accounting


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