Organizational improvisation entails the deliberate fusion of design and execution (Moorman & Miner, 1998). Adherence to formal organization design (rules and structures) and improvisation are often addressed as two conflicting schemes. Being “contradictory, even mutually exclusive,” their simultaneous presence may represent a paradox (Cameron & Quinn, 1988, p. 2). While most of the extant literature holds opposites apart, we investigate how the two “poles” can be synthetized and operationalized by a novel interpretation of legitimacy, as they complement each other in the organizational life. This is possible, for example, with the execution of previously designed plans of actions that might start with juggling between sets of prescribed rules and standards (design: arbitrage) and eventually unfold via the combination of different pieces of them (execution: collage). We try to understand “how is it possible to improvise by leveraging on different sources of legitimacy” by using one extreme case of High-Reliability Organization (HRO) in which processual and structural compliance should have informed the action of humans. Specifically we present the notorious case of the sinking of the Costa Concordia , showing how conformity to the formal adoption of standards and compliance to them provided a shelter for impromptu adaptation of the course of actions. While other studies have used the case for displaying the “dark side” of organizational improvisation (Giustiniano, Cunha & Clegg, 2015a) or for unveiling its inner zemblanity (Giustiniano, Cunha & Clegg, 2015b), we enlighten how the concatenation of actions and decisions may unveil paradoxes related to power, crossing the various sources of legitimacy identified by Weber (1915/47). At the same time the case sheds a novel light on the subject of the subversion of power, traditionally enacted from the base of the organization (e.g., via boycotting of orders and rules, Jermier & Clegg, 1994), by the very main decision maker (i.e., the captain of a vessel). The paper confirms that paradoxes are ubiquitous and inevitable in complex organizational systems, here associated with multiplicity of standards and concurring forms of legitimacy.

Improvising in the shade of power: The rise of paradoxes under the radar of formal compliance / Giustiniano, Luca; Cunha, Miguel Pina e.. - Sub-theme 35: Paradox Theory and Research: Constituting Tensions, Power and Discourse:(2016). ((Intervento presentato al convegno European Group for Organizational studies - 32nd EGOS Colloquium tenutosi a Naples, Italy nel July 5-7, 2016.

Improvising in the shade of power: The rise of paradoxes under the radar of formal compliance

GIUSTINIANO, LUCA;
2016

Abstract

Organizational improvisation entails the deliberate fusion of design and execution (Moorman & Miner, 1998). Adherence to formal organization design (rules and structures) and improvisation are often addressed as two conflicting schemes. Being “contradictory, even mutually exclusive,” their simultaneous presence may represent a paradox (Cameron & Quinn, 1988, p. 2). While most of the extant literature holds opposites apart, we investigate how the two “poles” can be synthetized and operationalized by a novel interpretation of legitimacy, as they complement each other in the organizational life. This is possible, for example, with the execution of previously designed plans of actions that might start with juggling between sets of prescribed rules and standards (design: arbitrage) and eventually unfold via the combination of different pieces of them (execution: collage). We try to understand “how is it possible to improvise by leveraging on different sources of legitimacy” by using one extreme case of High-Reliability Organization (HRO) in which processual and structural compliance should have informed the action of humans. Specifically we present the notorious case of the sinking of the Costa Concordia , showing how conformity to the formal adoption of standards and compliance to them provided a shelter for impromptu adaptation of the course of actions. While other studies have used the case for displaying the “dark side” of organizational improvisation (Giustiniano, Cunha & Clegg, 2015a) or for unveiling its inner zemblanity (Giustiniano, Cunha & Clegg, 2015b), we enlighten how the concatenation of actions and decisions may unveil paradoxes related to power, crossing the various sources of legitimacy identified by Weber (1915/47). At the same time the case sheds a novel light on the subject of the subversion of power, traditionally enacted from the base of the organization (e.g., via boycotting of orders and rules, Jermier & Clegg, 1994), by the very main decision maker (i.e., the captain of a vessel). The paper confirms that paradoxes are ubiquitous and inevitable in complex organizational systems, here associated with multiplicity of standards and concurring forms of legitimacy.
Organizational improvisation, power, high-reliability organization
Improvising in the shade of power: The rise of paradoxes under the radar of formal compliance / Giustiniano, Luca; Cunha, Miguel Pina e.. - Sub-theme 35: Paradox Theory and Research: Constituting Tensions, Power and Discourse:(2016). ((Intervento presentato al convegno European Group for Organizational studies - 32nd EGOS Colloquium tenutosi a Naples, Italy nel July 5-7, 2016.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11385/162115
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