The metaphor of 'the jazz band': ethical issues for leadership

Sorensen, N (2013) 'The metaphor of 'the jazz band': ethical issues for leadership.' Critical Studies in Improvisation, 9 (1). ISSN 1712-0624

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One of the principal ways in which musical improvisation has impacted upon corporations, businesses, and other institutions is through the metaphor of 'the jazz band.' This paper explores the emergence of this metaphor and examines the significance and meaning that it has generated, as well as the ways that it might help us to understand social organizations. This metaphor has been used to provide insights into leadership, organizations, schools as learning communities, and even the meaning of life itself. While this is not an exhaustive list, these examples demonstrate the wide range of contexts in which this metaphor can be applied. This paper serves two purposes. First, it provides a critical evaluation of six examples of the jazz band metaphor in order to explore the significance of this metaphor and identify the contribution it has made to our broader understanding of improvisation. Second, it views the use of this metaphor as a leadership strategy, and attempts to identify the ethical implications, for leaders, for appropriating concepts derived from musical improvisation and applying them in non-musical contexts. The paper concludes with the view that we need to go beyond metaphor, and argues for inter-disciplinary research on improvisation within musical and organizational contexts.

Item Type: Article

The theme of this issue is 'Ethics and the improvising business'. Full text is available at the publisher's website using the link above.

Subjects: L Education > L Education (General)
M Music and Books on Music > M Music
Divisions: School of Education
Date Deposited: 23 Nov 2014 21:39
Last Modified: 15 Aug 2021 09:32
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