Sensemaking and sensegiving apabilities and resilience: a study of a manufacturing MSME in Kenya

Master Thesis


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University of Cape Town

MSMEs play a very crucial role in the economies of developing countries. They contribute towards GDP; reduce the unemployment levels and bridging the huge gap that divides the rich and the poor. They however face numerous risks such as commercial risks, financial risks, operational risks and regulatory and compliance risks to name a few, which threaten their existence. In Kenya, many of the MSMEs do not survive beyond a year due to the lack of resilience to these risks. Furthermore, lack of proper managerial expertise in creating strategies that are well suited to mitigate these risks contribute to their demise. Much has been said about the risks that MSMEs face in Kenya. However, there is limited research on the strategies used to mitigate those risks and the decision making process that leads up to the strategies that are employed. This research therefore aimed to bridge that gap and investigate how MSMEs respond to risk, why they respond the way they do and how they can build resilience. This was done using sensemaking theory to explore the sensemaking and sensegiving capabilities of MSMEs in Kenya. A single case study of a manufacturing MSME in Kenya was used. The overall proposition of the study was that good sensemaking and sensegiving capabilities would assist MSMEs build resilience. Pattern- matching was used to match the expected pattern (theories such as enactment theory and 4 I framework) to the observed pattern which was obtained through the data collected from the company. The findings suggested that indeed good sensemaking and sensegiving capabilities do build resilience as the risk management processes and sense making and sensegiving capabilities of the selected company was a close fit to the expected pattern. The areas where the two patterns did not match, highlighted areas in which the MSME could make improvements and in so doing build resilience.