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Do I Smell Weed? Making Sense of Employee Behavior at a Restaurant

Eric Nelson, Matthew VanSchenkhof, Chad Brown, Jessica Cox
January 1, 2017
North America
Strategy & General Management
3 pages
sensemaking, drug use, restaurant, manager, Organizational Behavior
Student Price: 
$4.00 (€3.68)
Average rating: 

This critical incident focuses on applying Karl Weick’s (1995) sensemaking theory to help students interpret perspectives in what occurs when a summer intern had to deal with an emerging situation in a restaurant. By applying Weick’s sensemaking theory, students learn how their experiences add value to developing potential solutions. Chad was a shift manager at Italiano’s, a local Italian restaurant in rural Missouri. He experienced a major test less than three weeks into being promoted. The scent of marijuana coming from a bathroom led him to realize that an employee was smoking marijuana while the restaurant was open. With little information at hand and limited experience, Chad had to determine a course of action that the restaurant’s owners, customers, and employees would all respect. Chad was left wondering how his response would construct his identity at Italiano’s and as a future leader in the restaurant industry.

Learning Outcomes: 
  1. Explain how constructing identity serves leaders to understand their roles in relation to the world around them.
  2. Apply retrospective and socialization skills to develop meaning.
  3. Explain how making sense is an ongoing and predictive process of assigning meaning and building awareness.
  4. Evaluate the extracted cues to create a plan of action.
  5. Make recommendations (action-in-context) based on one’s own background and sensemaking skills.