Maureen O'Connor

Making sense of organisational change-A cognitive consideration of the change agent role 

Supervisors: Dr Stephen Jeffares and Dr Catherine Durose

My research is a qualitative study of change in local government using a sensemaking lens, with particular focus on the role of change agents. I have drawn from psychology, education, organisation development, sensemaking and artificial intelligence perspectives on change in arriving at a methodological approach that captures the interconnected and complex frames of reference that individuals construct as a basis for decision making and subsequent action.


I started my PhD on a part-time, basis while continiuing to work in a local authority undergoing significant change with far-reaching implications for service priorities and delivery processes. During nearly 30 years within local government, I have managed training and business development programmes, working with SMEs and larger companies during periods of expansion and contraction. I have organised business , education and leadership conferences, workshops and leadership events . I was seconded to work on schemes that created local education and business partnerships and cluster development within the manufacturing sector.

I currently work one day per month, on a voluntary basis, with a Third sector organisation to increase my knowledge of the issues and challenges currently being addresed through changes in structure and mindset.


  • Bachelor of Arts –University of Liverpool (1979)
  • MSc in Public Service Management-University of Birmingham (2003) 

Research interests

  • Change agents 
  • Concept and cognitive mapping 
  • Local government and Third sector change processes 
  • Qualitative research that attempts to capture the complexity of change processes 
  • Sensemaking

Professional memberships

  • British Academy of Mangement
  • Political Studies Association

Conference papers

Political Studies Association Annual Conference 2011- An Alternative consideration of Transformational Change in the Public Sector

School of Government & Society Annual Postgraduate colloquium 2012 –A sensemaking approach to change agency

CMC 2012 Fifth International Concept Mapping Conference - Theoretical Considerations of the Effectiveness of Concept Mapping in Interpretive Sensemaking Research