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Reframing Organizations, 4 th ed.. Chapter 14 Organization as Theater.

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Presentation on theme: "Reframing Organizations, 4 th ed.. Chapter 14 Organization as Theater."— Presentation transcript:

1 Reframing Organizations, 4 th ed.

2 Chapter 14 Organization as Theater

3 Dramaturgical and Institutional Theory DiMaggio and Powell, “The Iron Cage Revisited…” Organizational Structure as Theater Organizational Process as Theater

4 Organizational Theater Theater plays to both internal and external audiences A convincing dramaturgical performance reassures external constituents, builds confidence, keeps critics at bay Drama may have happy endings (like Polaris case) or tragedy (like Hurricane Katrina)

5 Dramaturgical and Institutional Theory Dramaturgical theory: internal focus (organizational participants as players in a drama) Institutional theory: external focus on how organizations project images to external audiences “Institutionalized organizations” focus more on appearance than performance When goals are ambiguous and performance hard to measure (as in universities and many government agencies), organizations maintain stakeholder support by staging the right play, conforming to audience expectations of how the organization should operate

6 DiMaggio and Powell, “The Iron Cage Revisited…” “Isomorphism” – process of becoming similar to other organizations in the same “organizational field” Coercive isomorphism – organizations become alike because law, regulation or stakeholders pressure them to do so Mimetic isomorphism – organizations become more alike by copying one another Normative isomorphism – organizations employing the same professionals become similar because the professionals have similar values and ideas

7 Organizational Structure as Theater Structure as Stage design: an arrangement of lights, props and costumes Makes drama vivid and credible Reflects and expresses current values and myths Public schools reassure stakeholders if… The building and grounds look like a school Teachers are certified Curriculum mirrors society’s expectations Colleges judged by: Age, endowment, beauty of campus Faculty student ratio Faculty with degrees from elite institutions

8 Organizational Process as Theater Activities (meetings, planning, performance appraisal, etc.) often fail to produce intended outcomes, yet persist because they help sustain organizational drama Scripts and stage markings: cue actors what to do and how to behave Opportunities for self-expression and forums for airing grievances Reassure audiences that organization is well- managed and important problems are being addressed

9 Organizational Process as Theater (II) Meetings as “Garbage cans” Attract an unpredictable mix of problems looking for solutions, solutions looking for problems, and participants seeking opportunities for self-expression Planning as ceremony to maintain legitimacy and reinforce participants’ bonds Plans are symbols Plans become games Plans become excuses for interaction Plans become advertisements

10 Organizational Process as Theater (III) Evaluations Often fail in intended goals of improving performance and identifying strengths and weaknesses Ceremony signals the organization is well-managed and cares about performance improvement Collective Bargaining Public face: intense, dramatic contest Private face: back-stage negotiation, collusion Power Exists in eye of beholder – you are powerful if others think you are May be attributed based on outcomes

11 Conclusion Organizations judged by appearance The right drama: Provides a ceremonial stage Reassures stakeholders Maintains confidence and faith Drama serves powerful symbolic functions Engages actors in their performances Builds excitement, hope, sense of momentum


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