IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Stylistic Creativity in the Utilization of Management Tools




We analyze the role of management instruments in the development of collective activity and in the dynamics of organization, recurring to pragmatic and semiotic theories. In dualist representation-based theories (rationalism, cognitivism), instruments are seen as symbolic reflections of situations, which enable actors to translate their complex concrete activities into computable models. In interpretation-based theories (pragmatism, theory of activity, situated cognition), instruments are viewed as signs interpreted by actors to make sense of their collective activity, in an ongoing and situated manner. Instruments combine objective artefacts and interpretive schemes of utilization. They constrain interpretation and utilization, but do not completely determine them: they define genus (generic classes) of collective activity, but they leave space for individual or local interpretive schemes and stylistic creation in using them. A major part of organizational dynamics takes place in the permanent interplay between instrumental genus and styles. Whereas representation-based theories can be acceptable approximations in stable and reasonably simple organizational settings, interpretation-based theories make uncertain and complex situations more intelligible. They view emotions and creativity as a key part of the interpretive process, rather than as external biases of a rational modelling process. For future research, we wish to study how interpretation-based theories should impact managerial practices and improve, not only intelligibility, but also actionability of instruments and situations.

Suggested Citation

  • Lorino, Philippe, 2007. "Stylistic Creativity in the Utilization of Management Tools," ESSEC Working Papers DR 07007, ESSEC Research Center, ESSEC Business School.
  • Handle: RePEc:ebg:essewp:dr-07007

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Swieringa, Robert J. & Weick, Karl R., 1987. "Management accounting and action," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 12(3), pages 293-308, April.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Gulliver Lux & Nicolas Petit, 2016. "Coalitions of Actors and Managerial Innovations in the Healthcare and Social Healthcare Sector," Public Organization Review, Springer, vol. 16(2), pages 251-268, June.
    2. Aurélien Ragaigne, 2008. "De l'indicateur à l'évaluation de la satisfaction des usagers," Post-Print halshs-00525827, HAL.

    More about this item


    Collective Activity; Genus; Instruments; Interpretation; Management Instruments; Performance Management; Pragmatism; Semiotics; Style;

    JEL classification:

    • M00 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - General - - - General
    • Z00 - Other Special Topics - - General - - - General

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:ebg:essewp:dr-07007. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Sophie Magnanou). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.