'Getting' it Together In Joint Directed Action
Doctoral thesis, 2009

This thesis is focused upon investigating how come activities in organizations are sometimes not aligned with an objective at hand, be it a project goal, safety, quality or other. When something goes wrong, where are the answers to be found? In the pursuit to examine these questions further, the aim of the thesis has been to investigate meaning making in action as this can increase an understanding of how actors may continuously align their actions, collective and/or individual, with a common goal – this process here being called Joint Directed Action (JDA). Studying the relational aspects in the two-way process of meaning making and action is claimed to be a neglected area in the research of how actors make sense of their realities. As such much could be gained in terms of understanding how actions unfold by focusing upon these issues. This thesis illustrates how meaning and action constitute a two-way process unfolding in a continuous interpretational-relational process that needs to be given attention in the pursuit of JDA. By being aware of how meaning and action are intertwined, actors can naturally become attentive to contextual cues and how management ‘systems’, such as Quality Assurance Systems, in their enactment become co-authors shaping the organizational landscape. These are important issues in the pursuit of JDA. This thesis provides a method for facilitating meaning making in organizations. Knowledge Overlapping Seminars (KOS) — a conversational tool based upon facilitated reflection and dialogue — is presented as a means to increased awareness of different interpretations of e.g., a project goal due to local realities and identities within an organization. KOS is a method with the aim of increasing efficiency and reliability in organizations by e.g. delimiting misunderstandings and bridging knowledge gaps between local identities. In this thesis KOS has been applied and evaluated in a Six Sigma project. Based upon findings from the studies it is clear that actors, in the pursuit of JDA, are aided by being aware of how they ‘see things’ differently due to local interpretations. It is further argued that actors can pursue JDA by being able to ‘relate’ to one another. The ‘relating to one another’ is based upon an awareness of how the organisational landscape is continuously shaped and re-shaped due to the reflexive relationships among meaning making, identity creation, emotional activities and action within the flow of conversational activity. And so it is contested here that in the co-authoring of relational landscapes characterized by an interrelating which is heedful, attentive and conscientious actors can ‘‘Get’ it Together’ in the continuous pursuit of Joint Directed Action.



language / discourse

Joint Directed Action

meaning making / sensemaking

quality sciences

relational landscape



Vasa A
Opponent: Prof. Philippe Lorino


Christina Mauléon

Chalmers, Technology Management and Economics, Quality Sciences

Common concepts for Common Action: Sense Making or Senseless Making in Organizations?

Proceedings from the EGOS Colloqium (European Group for Organization Studies), July 3-5, Copenhagen.,; (2003)

Paper in proceeding

Knowledge Overlapping Seminars: A Conversational Arena for Facilitating Co-construction of Shared Understanding in Projects

Proceedings from Quality Management and Organizational development,; (2006)p. 15-

Paper in proceeding

Exploring the epistemological origins of Shewhart’s and Deming’s theory of quality: influences from C.I. Lewis’ conceptualistic pragmatism.

International Journal of Quality and Service Sciences,; Vol. 1(2009)p. 160-171

Journal article

Subject Categories

Production Engineering, Human Work Science and Ergonomics


Specific Languages

Communication Studies

Other Social Sciences not elsewhere specified



Doktorsavhandlingar vid Chalmers tekniska högskola. Ny serie: 3201

Vasa A

Opponent: Prof. Philippe Lorino

More information