Title: Sense making and learning in complex organisations: the string quartet revisited

Authors: George Tovstiga, Stefan Odenthal, Stephan Goerner

Addresses: Henley Management College, Henley-on-Thames, UK, and Arthur D. Little (Switzerland) Ltd., Zurich, Switzerland. ' Arthur D. Little (Switzerland) Ltd., Zurich, Switzerland. ' Carmina String Quartet, Zurich, Switzerland

Abstract: Why do musicians consistently succeed in achieving a degree of organisational perfection that many business leaders can only dream of? What makes some music ensembles function so seemingly flawlessly? What roles do learning and sense making play in this? How do learning and sense making occur in organisational settings that are characteristically transient, varying, ephemeral and ambiguous – in other words, organisational settings typically experienced by ensembles? The authors explore the notions of learning and sense making in a string quartet. The string quartet is viewed as a complex learning organisation characterised by a dual dichotomy comprising individual-collective interactions and tacit-explicit knowledge processes. A construct describing the string quartet|s field of interaction in terms of learning and sense making is derived and deployed to analyse learning and sense making in complex organisations such as the string quartet. The construct and analysis developed in this paper are based on a case study of the Carmina Quartet of Zurich, Switzerland.

Keywords: sense making; learning organisation; complex organisations; string quartet; musicians; ensembles; individual-collective interactions; tacit-explicit knowledge; knowledge creation; knowledge exchange; communication.

DOI: 10.1504/IJMCP.2005.008514

International Journal of Management Concepts and Philosophy, 2005 Vol.1 No.3, pp.215 - 231

Published online: 24 Dec 2005 *

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