University of Oulu

Lunkka, N., Pietiläinen, V., & Suhonen, M. (2019). A Discursive Sensemaking Perspective on Project-Based Work in Public Healthcare. Project Management Journal, 50(6), 657–672.

A discursive sensemaking perspective on project-based work in public healthcare

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Author: Lunkka, Nina1,2; Pietiläinen, Ville3; Suhonen, Marjo1,2
Organizations: 1University of Oulu, Research Unit of Nursing Science and Health Management, Finland
2Medical Research Center Oulu, Finland
3University of Lapland, Faculty of Social Sciences, Finland
Format: article
Version: accepted version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.5 MB)
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Language: English
Published: SAGE Publications, 2019
Publish Date: 2019-06-04


This study investigates project participants’ sensemaking of lived work experiences during periods of organizational change within Finnish public healthcare. It introduces a discursive sensemaking perspective to investigate lived experiences, that is, reflexive practitioners’ situational thinking. Drawing upon 17 interviews, the study identifies diverse repertoires through which the lived experiences are considered meaningful. These are repertoires of: (1) transformation, (2) realism, (3) politics, (4) individuality, (5) reflexivity, and (6) senselessness. The results show that project-based work in public healthcare differs from project participants’ expectations because projects are perceived to increase rather than decrease bureaucracy and include unsustainable working conditions that have to be endured.

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Series: Project management journal
ISSN: 8756-9728
ISSN-E: 1938-9507
ISSN-L: 8756-9728
Volume: 50
Issue: 6
Pages: 657 - 672
DOI: 10.1177/8756972819847062
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 517 Political science
Funding: This research has received funding from the Finnish Work Environment Fund.
Copyright information: © 2019 Project Management Institute, Inc. The final authenticated version is available online at: