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Karl E. Weick
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Human Dimensions of Fire Management
Organizational Learning & Innovation

NRFSN number: 15843
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Weick uses the metaphor of jazz improvisation to discuss the way people verbally communicate about organizational improvisation. He argues that the descriptions and processes used to discuss composing on the spur of the moment provide a lexicon for discussing concepts central to organizational theory. Weick places an emphasis on the holistic nature of what occurs when people improvise. Specifically, this article examines various aspects of improvisation, such as degrees of improvisation, forms of improvisation, and cognition in improvisation. Weick ends with a list of 13 characteristics of groups with a high capability to improvise and comments about implications for theory and practice.


Weick, Karl E. 1998. Improvisation as a mindset for organizational analysis. Organizational Science 9 (5), p. 543-555.

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