The role of cues in expert project manager sensemaking

Eva Marie P Gacasan*, Mark W. Wiggins, Ben J. Searle

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

2 Citations (Scopus)


Sensemaking forms the foundation of expertise as it comprises the initial stage of information processing that influences judgement and decision-making. Two related studies were undertaken to investigate the role of cues in the context of expert project management. First, a qualitative study was conducted using the critical incident technique and involving nine project managers who had successfully delivered projects. The data were analysed by identifying the critical incidents and the associated cues that were used as the basis of sensemaking in project-related situations. These cues converged into three categories: feedback, context cues and tacit knowledge. The second study examined the construct validity of the cues that emerged in Study 1 using a cue utilization scale that was administered through an online survey. There were 23 experienced project managers and 78 naïve participants who participated in the study. Differences in patterns of cue utilization were evident between the two cohorts based on the perceived levels of project complexity and project phases. The research outcomes offer empirical support for the relationship between cues and sensemaking in project management, and provide a basis for further research into the acquisition of sensemaking skills and the development of cue-based training initiatives to facilitate the progression towards expert project management.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)492-507
Number of pages16
JournalConstruction Management and Economics
Issue number7-8
Publication statusPublished - 2 Aug 2016

Bibliographical note

There is a Corrigendum to this article at Vol. 34, Issue 6, p. 432.


  • cue utilization
  • expertise
  • project management
  • sensemaking

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