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Elgar Introduction to Organizational Improvisation

9781800370227 Edward Elgar Publishing
António Cunha Meneses Abrantes, Department of Human Resources Management & Business Law, TBS Business School, France, Miguel Pina e Cunha, Fundação Amélia de Mello Professor, Nova School of Business and Economics, Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Portugal and Anne S. Miner, Professor Emerita-Research Fellow, University of Wisconsin-Madison, US
Publication Date: June 2022 ISBN: 978 1 80037 022 7 Extent: c 208 pp
Much has been researched and written about the emergence of improvisation processes within organizational contexts. Although still scarce, research on organizational improvisation has evolved from a jazz and theater metaphor to empirical and conceptual organizational frameworks, creating a consolidated organizational theoretical body. This Elgar Introduction discusses major theoretical advances in organizational improvisation, which the authors view as the process of improvisation that occurs within an organizational context, whether at the individual, team, or organizational level. Grounded in rigorous academic work to date, this book speaks both to scholars interested in developing research on organizational improvisation and to managers who face rapid change with crucial consequences.

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Many organizations operate in an environment that is increasingly dynamic, turbulent, and unpredictable. This volume makes the case that they need to embrace improvisation as a core organizational capability, not to replace but to complement planning and forecasting. Research on organizational improvisation has evolved from a jazz and theater metaphor to a distinct body of empirical and conceptual work that tackles how improvisation unfolds in the full range of organizational contexts. These contexts often have very different goals, constraints and possibilities than improvisation in the arts. This makes it crucial to develop understanding of improvisation at all levels and in all types of organizations including but not limited to day-to-day operations of large firms and government agencies, strategic change, emergency management, product development, and start-ups.

This book pulls together in one place major advances in understanding organizational improvisation. It describes major theoretical- and evidence-based advances in models of organizational improvisation, which the authors define as the deliberate and substantive convergence of the design and execution of a novel activity, that can be created at the individual, team, or organizational level. The authors provide, integrate and consolidate the existing literature on organizational improvisation and offer a comprehensive analysis of key processes. They go beyond a mechanical literature review to include illustrative mini-cases, novel concepts in contemporary work and short personal comments from researchers in the field.

Grounded in rigorous academic work to date, this book speaks both to scholars interested in developing research on organizational improvisation and to managers. It discusses both promising paths for academic research and practical recommendations, especially those who deal with unpredictable environments that force them to either improvise or to face harmful or even fatal outcomes for organizational members and/or the entire organization.
Critical Acclaim
‘In a world characterized by uncertainty and rapid changes, this book brilliantly elucidates why improvisation is fundamental in organizational life. By blending seminal research on improvisation and new cutting edge findings, authors share precious and useful insights to wisely prepare and manage extemporaneous actions.’
– Massimo Magni, Bocconi University, Italy

‘Improvisation has never been more important as an advanced approach to augment planning in the face of uncertainty, disruption and often time and resource scarcity. The moment is ripe to build on the extensive research to understand and implement effective improvisation. This book unpacks improvisation in an insightful and practical way, making it accessible to all.’
– Mary Crossan, Ivey Business School at Western University, Canada
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