Exploring interpersonal behavior and team sensemaking during health information technology implementation.

Journal Article (Journal Article)


We examine how interpersonal behavior and social interaction influence team sensemaking and subsequent team actions during a hospital-based health information technology (HIT) implementation project.


Over the course of 18 months, we directly observed the interpersonal interactions of HIT implementation teams using a sensemaking lens.


We identified three voice-promoting strategies enacted by team leaders that fostered team member voice and sensemaking; communicating a vision; connecting goals to team member values; and seeking team member input. However, infrequent leader expressions of anger quickly undermined team sensemaking, halting dialog essential to problem solving. By seeking team member opinions, team leaders overcame the negative effects of anger.

Practical implications

Leaders must enact voice-promoting behaviors and use them throughout a team's engagement. Further, training teams in how to use conflict to achieve greater innovation may improve sensemaking essential to project risk mitigation.

Social implications

Health care work processes are complex; teams involved in implementing improvements must be prepared to deal with conflicting, contentious issues, which will arise during change. Therefore, team conflict training may be essential to sustaining sensemaking.

Research implications

Future research should seek to identify team interactions that foster sensemaking, especially when topics are difficult or unwelcome, then determine the association between staff sensemaking and the impact on HIT implementation outcomes.


We are among the first to focus on project teams tasked with HIT implementation. This research extends our understanding of how leaders' behaviors might facilitate or impeded speaking up among project teams in health care settings.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Kitzmiller, RR; McDaniel, RR; Johnson, CM; Lind, EA; Anderson, RA

Published Date

  • January 2013

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 14 /

Start / End Page

  • 119 - 144

PubMed ID

  • 24772885

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 1474-8231

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1108/s1474-8231(2013)00000140010


  • eng