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Notes on improvisation and time in organizations

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Business Process Re-engineering has not been able to eradicate improvisation from economic organizations. On the ashes of this failed program of modernization, it is high time to take a serious look at the phenomenon of improvisation: its structure, dynamics and forms of occurrence in both emergency and routine situations. The study of such a ubiquitous human practice reveals that even in highly structured organizations improvisation is a well grounded process that can be leveraged to face those situations where rules and methods fail. Improvisation, seen as an ex-temporaneous process, opens up alternative approaches to cope with time in business. ‘Lifting out' the constraints posed by clock time, one can envisage the importance of those ‘moments of vision' that represent the elusive core of entrepreneurial behaviour. In the background of impromptu action, as well as of a more authentic notion of time, lies what is missing from the managerial models in good currency: human existence and experience.

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