From intended strategies to unintended outcomes: The impact of change recipient sensemaking

This paper, written by Julia Balogun and Gerry Johnson, outlines a longitudinal, real-time analysis of planned change implementation to provide an explanation for the unintended results that come about from evaluation strategies.

The focus is on organisational change and the extent that unintended outcomes can be managed during change implementation.


"The tendency for intended strategies to lead to unintended consequences is well documented. This longitudinal, real-time analysis of planned change implementation provides an explanation for this phenomenon. We focus on the social processes of interaction between middle managers as change recipients as they try to make sense of the change interventions. We show the extent to which lateral, informal processes of inter-recipient sense making contribute to both intended and unintended change outcomes, and therefore the unpredictable, emergent nature of strategic change. The findings raise the issue of the extent to which it is possible to manage evolving recipient interpretations during change implementation." (Balogun and Johnson, 2005)


Balogun, J. and Johnson, G. (2005), From Intended Strategies to Unintended Outcomes: The Impact of Change Recipient Sensemaking, Organization Studies Online First, SAGE Publications, London. Retrieved from: