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Modes of UncertaintyAnthropological Cases$
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Limor Samimian-Darash and Paul Rabinow

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780226257075

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: January 2016

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226257242.001.0001

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The “Cool” Organization Man

The “Cool” Organization Man

Incorporating Uncertainty from Jazz Music into the Business World

Chapter:
(p.29) Chapter Two The “Cool” Organization Man
Source:
Modes of Uncertainty
Author(s):

Eitan Wilf

Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226257242.003.0003

This chapter explores the ways in which the idea of jazz music as the quintessential art of productive risk-taking and flexibility in the face of uncertainty has been incorporated into organizational theories and practices aimed at improving the functionality of the 21st century organization. It argues, first, that the incorporation of the jazz metaphor into the business world has been motivated by the realization that this metaphor is productive of an organizational structure that is not only flexible enough to cope with unexpected events but is also capable of producing unexpected events that can be further developed into and function as innovations in fields in which to remain stagnant is to perish. Second, it is claimed that the incorporation of organizational templates from jazz represents a mode of legitimation and naturalization of a new work-related form of uncertainty—namely, creative uncertainty—and its concomitant affective manifestations such as anxiety, which are becoming prevalent in knowledge-based organizations. Through the selective appropriation of the practice of jazz improvisation, organizational theorists have legitimized this new work-related form of uncertainty and its potentially problematic affective manifestations, reframing them as productive resources for the organizational management of uncertainty, as well as for employees’ self-expression.

Keywords:   organizational studies, jazz metaphor, innovation, creativity, uncertainty, work-related anxiety

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