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Shopping for new glasses: looking beyond jazz in the study of organization improvisation


  • Kamoche, Ken
  • Cunha, Miguel Pina e
  • Cunha, Joao Vieira da


This article calls for research on organizational improvisation to go beyond the currently dominant jazz metaphor in theory development. We recognize the important contribution that jazz improvisation has made and will no doubt continue to make in understanding the nature and complexity of organizational improvisation. This article therefore presents some key lessons from the jazz metaphor and then proceeds to identify the possible dangers of building scientific inquiry upon a single metaphor. We then present three alternative metaphors Indian music, therapy and role theory. We explore the nature of these metaphors and seek to identify ways in which they differ from the jazz metaphor. This analysis leads us to identify not merely how these alternative metaphors fill the gaps left by the jazz metaphor but also how they complement the contribution from the jazz metaphor thus further strengthening theory-building in this genre. Ultimately, our understanding of organizational improvisation will be sharpened by more incisive theoretical analysis and empirical research.

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  • Kamoche, Ken & Cunha, Miguel Pina e & Cunha, Joao Vieira da, 2000. "Shopping for new glasses: looking beyond jazz in the study of organization improvisation," FEUNL Working Paper Series wp381, Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Faculdade de Economia.
  • Handle: RePEc:unl:unlfep:wp381

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    1. Malone, Thomas W. & Lai, Kum-Yew. & Fry, Christopher., 1992. "Experiments with OVAL : a radically tailorable tool for cooperative work," Working papers #132. Working paper (Sloa, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Sloan School of Management.
    2. John Seely Brown & Paul Duguid, 1991. "Organizational Learning and Communities-of-Practice: Toward a Unified View of Working, Learning, and Innovation," Organization Science, INFORMS, vol. 2(1), pages 40-57, February.
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