Reconceptualizing Job Control in Participatory Interventions – Collective Sensemaking as a Missing Link

  • Esben Langager Olsen Copenhagen Business School
  • Christian Dyrlund Wåhlin-Jacobsen Copenhagen Business School
  • Johan Simonsen Abildgaard The National Research
Keywords: Health, Working Environment & Wellbeing, Learning & Competencies, Identity, Meaning & Culture, Organization & Management


Participatory organizational-level interventions where employees are invited to voice suggestions for improving the work environment have been claimed to increase job control. However, empirical studies suggest that the relationship is conditional, and the underlying mechanisms are not well understood. To further our understanding, we highlight various weaknesses in current individuallevel conceptualizations of job control and argue that employees’ collective sensemaking relating to their job control is an important, yet overlooked factor. To demonstrate the principles of this sensemaking and how it shapes the participants’ engagement in the intervention, we analyze interactional data from an intervention with blue-collar employees. Based on this analysis, we discuss the implications of adopting a sensemaking perspective for research and practice.

Author Biographies

Esben Langager Olsen, Copenhagen Business School

PhD Student, Department of Organization, Denmark. E-mail:

Christian Dyrlund Wåhlin-Jacobsen, Copenhagen Business School

Assistant Professor, Department of Organization, Denmark

Johan Simonsen Abildgaard, The National Research

Senior Researcher


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How to Cite
Olsen, E. L., Wåhlin-Jacobsen, C. D., & Abildgaard, J. S. (2020). Reconceptualizing Job Control in Participatory Interventions – Collective Sensemaking as a Missing Link. Nordic Journal of Working Life Studies, 10(4).