Business and Improvisation

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Below is a listing of publications about improvisation and organizational success that was compiled by Shea Elmore and originally appeared on the Playing with Reality website.

Thanks for sharing this, Shea!


There is a relatively new field of “applied improvisation” that takes the tools and techniques used by improvisers into workplaces and communities. This emerging arena has already attracted the attention of scholars and researchers. Below is an extensive, albeit by no means complete, list of articles and publications on the topic.

Research & Publications Regarding Improvisation & Organizational Success

Arshad, Darwina & Hughes, Paul. “Examining Organizational Improvisation: The Role of Strategic Reasoning and Managerial Factors.” International Journey of Social and Human Sciences, Volume 3, 2009: pp. 568-574.
http://waset.org/publications/15898/examining-organizational-improvisation-the-role-of-strategic-reasoning-and-managerial-factors

Balachandra, Lakshmi; Crossan, Mary; Devin, Lee; Leary, Kim; Patton, Bruce. “Improvisation and Teaching Negotiation: Developing Three Essential Skills.” Negotiation Journal, Volume 21, Issue 4, October 2005: pp. 435-441.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1571-9979.2005.00076.x

Baumer, Allan; Fuller, Daniel; Luther, Kurt; Magerko, Brian; Manzoul, Waleed; Pearce, Celia; Riedl, Mark. “An Empirical Study of Cognition and Theatrical Improvisation.” 2009.
http://www.cc.gatech.edu/~riedl/pubs/magerko-cc09.pdf

Chelariu, Cristian; Johnston, Wesley; Young, Louise. “Learning to improvise, improvising to learn: a process of responding to complex environments.” Journal of Business Research, Volume 55, Issue 2, February 2002: pp. 141-147.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0148-2963(00)00149-1

Cohen, Shalom & de Haan, Uzi. “The Role of Improvisation in Off-the-Shelf Software Development of Entrepreneurial Vendors.” International Conference on Systems Engineering and Modeling, March 2007: pp 85-92.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1109/ICSEM.2007.373337

Corbett, Andrew & Hmieleski, Keith. “Proclivity for Improvisation as a Predictor of Entrepreneurial Intentions.” Journal of Small Business Management, Volume 44, Issue 1, 2006: pp. 45-63.
http://hmieleski.com/Publications/Hmieleski_Corbett_JSBM_2006.pdf

Crossan, Mary & Vera, Dusya. “Theatrical Improvisation: Lessons for Organizations.” Organization Studies, Volume 25, Issue 5, June 2004: pp. 727-749.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0170840604042412

Gagnon, Suzanne; Nickerson, Robert; Vough, Heather. “Learning to Lead, Unscripted: Developing Affiliative Leadership Through Improvisational Theatre.” Human Resource Development Review, Volume 11, Issue 3, September 2012: pp. 299-325.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1534484312440566

Gibb, Stephen. “Arts-based training in management development: the use of improvisational theatre.” Journal of Management Development, Volume 23, Issue 8, 2004: pp.741-750.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/02621710410549594

Jackson, Paul. “Improvisation in training: freedom within corporate structures.” Journal of European Industrial Training, Volume 19, Issue 4, 1999: pp.25-28
http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/03090599510083413

Jambekar, Anil & Pelc, Karol. “Improvisation model for team performance enhancement in a manufacturing environment.” Team Performance Management, Volume 13, Issue 7/8, 2007: pp. 259-274.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/13527590710842565

Kaivo-oja, Jari; Mendonça, Sandro; Pina e Cunha, Miguel; Ruff, Frank. “Wild cards, weak signals and organizational improvisation.” Futures, Volume 36, Issue 2, March 2004: pp. 201-218.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0016-3287(03)00148-4

Kanter, Rosabeth. “Strategy as Improvisational Theater.” MIT Sloan Management Review, Volume 43, Issue 2, Winter 2002: pp. 76-81.
http://sloanreview.mit.edu/the-magazine/2002-winter/4328/strategy-as-improvisational-theater/

Koppett, Kat. “Business and the Art of Improvisation.” The British Journal of Administrative Management, Issue 33, Sep/Oct 2002: pp. 26-27.
http://connection.ebscohost.com/c/articles/9894875/business-art-improvisation

Leone, Ludovica. “A Critical Review of Improvisation in Organizations: Open Issues and Future Research Directions.” June 2010.
http://www.archwoodside.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/Ludovica-Leone-IMPROVISATION-2010.pdf

Leybourne, Stephen & Sadler-Smith, Eugene. “The role of intuition and improvisation in project management.” International Journal of Project Management, Volume 24, Issue 6, August 2006: pp. 483-492.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ijproman.2006.03.007

Lobman, Carrie. “Improvisation: An analytic tool for examining teacher-child interactions in the early childhood classroom.” Early Childhood Research Quarterly, Volume 21, Issue 4, 4th Quarter 2006: pp. 455-470.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ecresq.2006.09.004

Lubet, Steven & Hankinson, Thomas “Truth in Humor: How Improvisational Comedy Can Help Lawyers Get Some Chops.” Northwestern Public Law Research Paper No. 916601, July 11, 2006.
http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.916601

Pratt, Robin & Sabourin, Randy. “Attentional and Interpersonal Characteristics of Improvisation Professionals vs. Business Executives [What Executives can learn from Improvisation Professionals].” 2008.
http://www.anderson-sabourin.com/Characteristics_of_Improv_Professionals_vs__Executives_Biz_Improv_v2.pdf

Sabourin, Randy. “Sales & Status – Business Improvisation at its Best.” April 29, 2009.
http://www.anderson-sabourin.com/Sales_status_business_improvisation.pdf

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