Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2011

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Stanley Deetz

Second Advisor

David Boromisza-Habashi

Third Advisor

Timothy Kuhn


In this thesis, I examined how staff members of a public agency, a public library, experienced transitions due to cutbacks, limited resources and technological changes, illustrating how people experience and make sense of these organizational uncertainties. Karl Weick proposed that people cannot come to fully understand what they have done until they have done it and can retrospectively make sense of the transition or occasion of ambiguity and/or uncertainty. In a year-long qualitative field study, I examined how staff members at a public library experienced overwhelming uncertainties and equivocalities such as leadership turnover, technological advancements, threats to identity, the election, and the everyday stresses of heavier workloads, down hours, and unfilled positions. Staff was unable to make sense of the transitions because of the overwhelming feeling of absolute "stuckness." Staff responded through reconstructive activities including the reconstruction of themselves as agents, and the reestablishment of routine, and community.

Included in

Communication Commons