Developing Improvisation Skills: The Influence of Individual Orientations

Mannucci, P V, Orazi, D C and De Valck, K (2021) Developing Improvisation Skills: The Influence of Individual Orientations. Administrative Science Quarterly, 66 (3). pp. 612-658. ISSN 0001-8392 OPEN ACCESS


The growing relevance of improvisation for successful organizing calls for a better understanding of how individuals develop improvisation skills. While research has investigated the role of training and simulations, little is known about how individuals develop improvisation skills when formal training is not an option and how individual-level factors shape development trajectories. We explore these issues in a longitudinal qualitative analysis of live action role-playing. Our findings reveal a three-stage process of improvisation development shaped by the presence of task and social structures, which act as both constraints and resources. Moreover, our findings illuminate how collaborative and competitive orientations shape whether improvisers perceive these structures as a resource that they need to nurture and renew (i.e., collaborative) or to seize and exploit (i.e., competitive). We also show that individual orientations are not always enduring but can change over time, engendering four types of improvisation development trajectories. Our work provides a longitudinal account of how individual orientations shape the process of improvisation development. In so doing, we also explain why individuals who are skilled improvisers do not necessarily improvise effectively as a collective, and we reconcile different conceptualizations of improvisation.

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Item Type: Article
Subject Areas: Organisational Behaviour
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© 2020 by Johnson Graduate School, Cornell University. Re-use of this article is restricted to non-commercial and no derivative uses.

Date Deposited: 27 Nov 2020 15:57
Date of first compliant deposit: 26 Nov 2020
Subjects: Organisational behaviour
Last Modified: 21 Apr 2024 01:44
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