Tales of the unexpected: discussing improvisational learning

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40 Citations (Scopus)


Improvisation has been treated largely as if it were a conceptual monolith: all improvisations are similar. We challenge this theorizing by distinguishing forms of improvisation in organizations (semi-structured, episodic, subversive, resistive) and by exploring ways in which these forms interrelate in improvisational sequences. Improvisation is not just something individuals do; it is a learned capacity that organizations can manage. We introduce the dimension of improvisational formality and informality, adding a political dimension to the study of the topic. By combining forms in process sequences, we organize the existing literature under a systematic perspective facilitating theory development via an integrative understanding of how improvisation produces learning.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)511-529
Number of pages19
JournalManagement Learning
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2015


  • Improvisation
  • improvisational forms
  • improvisational learning
  • learning
  • organization
  • politics
  • unexpected


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