Microfoundations of Strategizing in Transforming Business Ecosystems: A Sensemaking Approach

Research output: ThesisDoctoral ThesisCollection of Articles


Transforming business ecosystems are characterized by various driving forces, including disruptive technologies, the digital transformation of existing products, innovative business models, and climate sustainability issues. These forces are altering how companies organize their operations and interact with other actors in their environment. Top managers and entrepreneurs are key actors strategizing in this environment, given their roles in shaping visions for what is possible and determining strategic options for their companies. Thus, managers must adeptly frame, interpret, and act on internal, external, and relational activities to ensure business success.
The sensemaking perspective underscores the vital role of perception and interpretation in decision-making and action, particularly regarding strategizing, which is the set of activities that impact the success or survival of an organization. In diverse business contexts, sensemaking is essential, as individuals and organizations must navigate uncertainty and ambiguity, relying on their current sensemaking frames to render strategic decisions and actions meaningful. Consequently, continuous sensemaking of emerging situations is necessary for effective strategizing.
Despite extensive research on sensemaking in the industrial networks context, previous studies have predominantly focused on the outcomes rather than the underlying mechanisms of the sensemaking process. Existing research has identified a lack of attention to the situational and performative elements of sensemaking frames. Reflecting on the broader sensemaking literature, it is evident that the sensemaking frame construct remains significantly underdeveloped within the industrial networks research tradition, which has mainly adopted a cognitive perspective.
The primary aim of this article-based dissertation is to enhance our understanding of the intricate microfoundational mechanisms underpinning strategizing within transforming business ecosystems. Hence, the dissertation focuses on individual-level activities and their impact on the meso- and macrolevels. The dissertation investigates how managers make sense in a specific ecosystem context, explores the sensemaking mechanisms that explain differences in the perception of strategizing options, and discusses the implications of these mechanisms at various levels within a transforming business ecosystem.
The key contribution of this thesis is the conceptualization and empirical exploration of the sensemaking frame construct. This construct is theorized as a mechanism that moderates perception and interpretation, guides the evaluation of the plausibility of situated goals, and ascribes meaning to boundary objects at micro, meso, and macro levels. The papers in this dissertation advance a detailed understanding of the sensemaking frame construct as a specific microfoundational mechanism of strategizing. Furthermore, the sensemaking frames identified in each of the papers offer insights into how managers make sense in transforming business ecosystems and the impact these frames have on perceived strategizing options.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
  • Kock, Sören, Supervisor
  • Ravald, Annika, Supervisor
Award date18.06.2024
Place of PublicationHelsinki
Print ISBNs978-952-232-520-4
Electronic ISBNs978-952-232-521-1
Publication statusPublished - 2024
MoE publication typeG5 Doctoral dissertation (article)


  • 512 Business and Management
  • microfoundations
  • strategizing
  • sensemaking
  • sensemaking frame
  • transforming business ecosystem
  • industrial networks
  • business model


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