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Iva Seto, David Johnstone, & Jennifer Campbell-Meier. (2018). Experts' sensemaking during the 2003 SARS crisis. In Kristin Stock, & Deborah Bunker (Eds.), Proceedings of ISCRAM Asia Pacific 2018: Innovating for Resilience – 1st International Conference on Information Systems for Crisis Response and Management Asia Pacific. (pp. 44–55). Albany, Auckland, New Zealand: Massey Univeristy.
Abstract: This paper depicts the real-time sensemaking of experts as they worked to combat the first emerging disease of the 21st century: Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). Newspaper data was analysed from the 2003 SARS crisis, with a Canadian perspective, to follow the process of solving the puzzle of this emerging disease. Retrospective sensemaking is a process that is triggered by the unexpected, which leads to actors gathering information (taking action) in order to consider possible interpretations for the unexpected event. Disease outbreaks serve as sensemaking triggers, and actors engage in retrospective sensemaking to find out the factors involved in how the outbreak happened. Prospective sensemaking (future-oriented) is employed when actors work together to plan how to combat the disease. The newspaper data demonstrate that retrospective and prospective sensemaking are tethered: to make plans to combat a disease, actors first require a collectively agreed upon understanding from which they can generate possibilities for a crisis response. This paper contributes to the field by providing concepts for long-duration crisis sensemaking, as the bulk of organisational research focuses on acute crises such as wildfires, or earthquakes.