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Article
Publication date: 17 August 2021

Diórgenes Falcão Mamédio, Miguel Pina e Cunha and Victor Meyer Jr

By exploring “what is strategic improvisation in organizations?” the authors respond to advances in strategic improvisation (SI) conceptualization with an emphasis on the…

Abstract

Purpose

By exploring “what is strategic improvisation in organizations?” the authors respond to advances in strategic improvisation (SI) conceptualization with an emphasis on the challenges of combining unplanned but deliberate responses to relentlessly changing environments, in which strategy becomes increasingly improvised.

Design/methodology/approach

An integrative review was conducted with the potential to develop new theoretical approaches to research problems. This literature review resulted in an introductory SI framework.

Findings

The authors propose a SI conceptual framework combining foundation, structuration and capillarization. While foundations comprise extemporaneity, novelty and intentionality, considered as triggers for the manifestation of SI, in this study structuration refers to the combination of a minimal structure and a reassessment process in response to unexpected situations. Capillarization means interaction patterns characterized as spontaneous, dynamic and collaborative. This framework leads to the definition of SI as an impromptu deliberate action stream, combining unplanned responses with intentional actions sustaining the convergence of strategy and operation, to integrate and reconfigure resources at the strategic level.

Practical implications

SI in practice considers reconfiguring the internal and external forces to deal with unexpected events and impromptu deliberate responses to face rapidly changing environments. This would enable practitioners and managers to prepare for eventualities that evolve dynamically and spontaneously, and unpredictable imminent global crises.

Originality/value

The authors conducted the first study mapping improvisation as a strategic organizational level phenomenon. SI is recognized as operating across levels, from the tactical and functional to the strategic.

Details

Cross Cultural & Strategic Management, vol. ahead-of-print no. ahead-of-print
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2059-5794

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Book part
Publication date: 8 July 2021

Colin M. Fisher, Ozumcan Demir-Caliskan, Mel Yingying Hua and Matthew A. Cronin

Organizational scholars have long been interested in how jazz musicians manage tensions between structure and freedom, plans and action, and familiarity and novelty…

Abstract

Organizational scholars have long been interested in how jazz musicians manage tensions between structure and freedom, plans and action, and familiarity and novelty. Although improvisation has been conceptualized as a way of managing such paradoxes, the process of improvisation itself contains paradoxes. In this essay, we return to jazz improvisation to identify a new paradox of interest to organizational scholars: the paradox of intentionality. To improvise creatively, jazz musicians report that they must “try not to try,” or risk undermining the very spontaneity that is prized in jazz. Jazz improvisers must therefore control their ability to relinquish deliberate control of their actions. To accomplish this, they engage in three interdependent practices. Jazz musicians intentionally surrender their sense of active control (“letting go”) while creating a passive externalized role for this sense of active control (using a “third ear”). Letting go allows new and unexpected ideas to emerge, while the metaphorical third ear can identify promising ideas or problematic execution and, in doing so, re-engage active agency (“grabbing hold”). Examining the practices within creative improvisation reveals the complexity of the lived experience of the paradox, which we argue suggests further integration among organizational research on improvisation, creativity, and paradox.

Details

Interdisciplinary Dialogues on Organizational Paradox: Investigating Social Structures and Human Expression, Part B
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-80117-187-8

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Book part
Publication date: 3 October 2006

Mary M. Crossan and David K. Hurst

Management theory has paid scant attention to the nature and reconciliation of the tension between exploration and exploitation, in spite of its central importance to…

Abstract

Management theory has paid scant attention to the nature and reconciliation of the tension between exploration and exploitation, in spite of its central importance to strategic renewal. This paper uses Hurst's (1995) ecocycle to frame the tension and employs complexity theory to examine how the tension manifests itself across levels and time. Improvisation is advanced as a process to reconcile and manage the tension between exploration and exploitation.

Details

Ecology and Strategy
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-84950-435-5

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Article
Publication date: 15 December 2020

Dirk De Clercq, Inam Ul Haq and Muhammad Umer Azeem

This study investigates the mediating role of improvisation behavior in the relationship between employees' perceptions of procedural justice and their job performance, as…

Abstract

Purpose

This study investigates the mediating role of improvisation behavior in the relationship between employees' perceptions of procedural justice and their job performance, as evaluated by their supervisors, as well as the invigorating role of their organization-based self-esteem in this process.

Design/methodology/approach

Survey data were collected in three rounds among employees and their supervisors in Pakistan.

Findings

An important factor that connects procedural justice with enhanced job performance is whether employees react quickly to unexpected problems while carrying out their jobs. This mediating role of improvisation is particularly salient to the extent that employees consider themselves valuable organizational members.

Practical implications

For organizations, this study pinpoints a key mechanism—willingness to respond in the moment to unanticipated organizational failures—by which fair decision-making processes can steer employees toward performance-enhancing activities. It also reveals how this mechanism can be activated, namely, by ensuring that employees feel appreciated.

Originality/value

Improvisation represents an understudied but critical behavioral factor that links employees' beliefs about fair decision-making procedures to enhanced performance outcomes. This study shows, for the first time, how this beneficial role can be reinforced by organization-based self-esteem, as a critical personal resource.

Details

Management Decision, vol. 59 no. 9
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0025-1747

Keywords

Content available
Article
Publication date: 26 November 2020

Pooya Tabesh and Dusya M. Vera

The purpose of this paper is to describe how top management teams' expertise in comprehensive and intuitive decision-making contributes to effective improvisational…

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Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to describe how top management teams' expertise in comprehensive and intuitive decision-making contributes to effective improvisational decision-making in times of crisis. Also, improvisational decision-making, as a means for balancing or transcending the dualities of comprehensive and intuitive decision processes, enables the three strategic decision-making processes to coexist and contribute to decision-quality when in crisis.

Design/methodology/approach

After providing a general overview of comprehensive, intuitive and improvisational decision-making and introducing paradox theory, this paper offers a conceptual model of the link between improvisational decision-making and decision quality in crisis situations. Three boundary conditions are discussed: expertise in comprehensive decision-making, expertise in intuitive decision-making and the paradoxical balanced combination of comprehensive and intuitive decision-making. Two brief cases are included to illustrate the theory.

Findings

Although comprehensive and intuitive decision-making are rooted in distinct information processing approaches with different cognitive demands and at times contradictory logics, they can be combined in unique ways when senior executives improvise decisions in crisis situations.

Practical implications

Particularly in the contexts of crises, it is critical for managers to understand the value of improvisational decision-making and the balanced combination of decision-making tools available to them in order to make rapid and quality decisions. Potential action research interventions are suggested.

Originality/value

This paper offers an integrated model of decision-making, encompassing comprehensive, intuitive and improvisational processes and highlights the combinatory and synergistic nature of these approaches in a crisis.

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Article
Publication date: 3 April 2009

Aidan Daly, Stephen J. Grove, Michael J. Dorsch and Raymond P. Fisk

The purpose of this paper is to examine the value of improvisation training, as used in schools of acting, in preparing front‐stage service employees perform their roles…

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3460

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to examine the value of improvisation training, as used in schools of acting, in preparing front‐stage service employees perform their roles when interacting with customers as cabin crew in Aer Arann, a regional Irish airline.

Design/methodology/approach

To discern the relevance and impact of improvisation training, a case study methodology was employed. The subjects of the investigation were seven recently hired cabin crew personnel for Aer Arann. Data for the case study were collected from the new hires at three different times.

Findings

The study shows that participants both enjoyed the improvisation training and found it to be very valuable as preparation for their roles in the airline. A key finding was that the new hires strongly recommended that improvisation training be incorporated into the airline's regular induction training programme. Specifically, participants felt the improvisation training improved their confidence, effectiveness, ability to adapt, spontaneity and comfort in successfully handling unique situations.

Research limitations/implications

As with many case studies, the study presented here focuses on a single company for its data generation. Further, because of the realities of commercial life, the subject pool is quite small, i.e. due to the demands of their position, only seven new hires were available for the 12 hours needed to conduct the training, as well as the subsequent assessment activities. Nevertheless, the case study enabled the authors to gain meaningful insights into the utilisation of improvisation training in a real‐world setting.

Originality/value

The research makes several key contributions. First, it links theory and practice by demonstrating in a real world context the efficacy of framing service as theatre. Second, based on the service theatre literature, the paper details the utility of improvisation training as a means of preparing front‐stage service employees for the rigours of their jobs. Finally, the research presents new, empirically based insights regarding the value and contribution of improvisation training in the services sector.

Details

European Journal of Marketing, vol. 43 no. 3/4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0309-0566

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Article
Publication date: 8 January 2019

Magnus Hultman, Abena Animwaa Yeboah-Banin and Nathaniel Boso

Contemporary sales scholarship suggests that salespersons pursuing customer satisfaction should improvise (think and act on their feet) to find solutions to customers…

Abstract

Purpose

Contemporary sales scholarship suggests that salespersons pursuing customer satisfaction should improvise (think and act on their feet) to find solutions to customers’ emergent problems. A missing link in this literature, however, is the relational context within which improvisation takes place and becomes effective. This study aims to examine how the tone of the salesperson–customer relationship (whether cordial or coercive) drives and conditions salesperson improvisation and its implications for customer satisfaction.

Design/methodology/approach

The study tests the proposed model using dyadic salesperson–customer data from business-to-business (B2B) markets in Ghana. The relationships are tested using structural equation modeling technique.

Findings

The study finds that salesperson improvisation is associated with customer satisfaction. It also finds the extent of cordiality between salespersons and their customers predicts but does not enhance the value of improvisation for customer satisfaction. The reverse is true for customer exercised coercive power which is not a significant driver of improvisation but can substantially alter its benefits for the worse.

Practical implications

By implication, salespersons should improvise more to be able to satisfy customers. However, such improvisation must be tempered with a consciousness of the relationship shared with customers and the level of power they exercise in the relationship.

Originality/value

Because improvised behavior deviates from routines and may be unsettling for customers, improvising salespersons must first understand whether their customers would be willing to accommodate such deviations. Yet, the literature is silent on this relational context surrounding improvisation. This study, by exploring facilitating and inhibitory relational variables implicated in improvisation, addresses this gap.

Details

Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing, vol. 34 no. 6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0885-8624

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Article
Publication date: 8 May 2018

Jesper Falkheimer and Katarina Gentzel Sandberg

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…

Abstract

Purpose

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.

Design/methodology/approach

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.

Findings

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.

Originality/value

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.

Details

Journal of Communication Management, vol. 22 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1363-254X

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Article
Publication date: 1 May 2006

Joby John, Stephen J. Grove and Raymond P. Fisk

The purpose of this article is to establish the efficacy of jazz improvisation as a useful metaphor to understand and implement features that contribute to excellent…

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3506

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this article is to establish the efficacy of jazz improvisation as a useful metaphor to understand and implement features that contribute to excellent service performances.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper begins by presenting services as performances that often require flexibility and adaptability in their enactment. It then offers the metaphor of jazz improvisation as a means to comprehend and communicate the dynamics of such flexibility and adaptability. Jazz elements are used to illustrate their application to service delivery issues.

Practical implications

Similar to jazz, services deal with complex and real time delivery circumstances; this makes services prone to uncertainty at the service encounter. Lessons from jazz offer service managers guidelines for improvisation by each player in their ensemble that can enable them to adapt to customers and produce a coherent and cohesive performance.

Originality/value

The jazz improvisation metaphor offers a template and guidelines to comprehend and enact principles pertaining to adaptability in services contexts that may be useful for managers in designing service delivery and training frontline service employees.

Details

Managing Service Quality: An International Journal, vol. 16 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0960-4529

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Article
Publication date: 13 July 2012

Ekaterina Nemkova, Anne L. Souchon and Paul Hughes

The purpose of this paper is to examine two predominant export decision‐making orientations emanating from normative and descriptive decision theory, namely planning and…

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2953

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to examine two predominant export decision‐making orientations emanating from normative and descriptive decision theory, namely planning and improvisation and their coexistence within exporting firms. In addition, contingencies under which one may be more appropriate than the other for optimal performance consequences are identified.

Design/methodology/approach

A qualitative study was conducted with UK exporters by way of in‐depth interviews. The results were analyzed using within‐ and cross‐case displays of in‐vivo and literature‐based codes, based on Miles and Huberman's recommendations.

Findings

The study reveals widespread use of improvisation in export functions, and its co‐existence with export planning for enhanced decision‐making. In addition, resource‐ and capabilities‐based moderators are identified that may affect the ways in which planning and improvisation are related to export performance.

Research limitations/implications

This is a preliminary study which addresses the two export decision‐making orientations together for the first time. Further quantitative research is needed to formally test the conceptual model developed.

Practical implications

Export decision‐makers often feel guilty about improvising, believing that planning is the accepted norm. Avoidance and covert use of improvisation, however, are not necessary. Indeed, export improvisation can have many positive consequences for the export function, especially when combined with export planning.

Originality/value

Research on export decision‐making has tended to focus on normative decision theory (from which planning emerges), largely overlooking descriptive approaches which identify improvisation as a valid decision‐making orientation. However, in today's global and competitive environment, better performance consequences are increasingly to be found in the faster and more creative export decisions that improvisation can afford. This study addresses for the first time how benefits can be drawn from employing a combination of export planning and improvisation.

Details

International Marketing Review, vol. 29 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0265-1335

Keywords

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