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The art of strategic improvisation: A professional concept for contemporary communication managers

Jesper Falkheimer (Department of Strategic Communication, Lund University, Helsingborg, Sweden)
Katarina Gentzel Sandberg (Gullers Grupp AB, Stockholm, Sweden)

Journal of Communication Management

ISSN: 1363-254X

Article publication date: 8 May 2018




The purpose of this paper is to describe strategic improvisation, a contemporary concept and approach based on the creative arts and organizational crisis theory, as a valuable approach for communication professionals. Strategic improvisation combines the need for planning and structure with creative action, and is a normative idea of how to work in an efficient way.


The concept is developed in a collaborative project between a major Swedish communications agency and a university scholar. The empirical foundation consists of 25 qualitative interviews with a strategic selection of successful communication professionals, identified as typical strategic improvisers.


An analysis of the interviews led to 11 defining patterns or themes typical for strategic improvisation and strategic improvisers. The interviews and the theoretical framework is the foundation of a communication model. Strategic improvisation is defined as a situational interpretation within a given framework. The model has three interconnected parts: a clear framework (composition), a professional interpretation (interpretation) and a situational adaptation based on given possibilities and conditions (improvisation).

Research limitations/implications

This is not a peer reviewed paper, but a paper in the section “In Practice,” directed toward communication professionals.


The ideas and model are connected to theories of improvisation, especially in music, which is rare in the field of communication management, and developed in a collaborative project between practice and research.



The authors wish to thank Professor Peggy Simcic Brønn for constructive feedback and help with this paper.


Falkheimer, J. and Sandberg, K.G. (2018), "The art of strategic improvisation: A professional concept for contemporary communication managers", Journal of Communication Management, Vol. 22 No. 2, pp. 253-258.



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