Organisational Improvisation Capabilities: definition and explanation

Organisational Improvisational Capabilities: definition and explanation


What are organisational improvisational capabilities ?

Organisational improvisational capability refers to the “ability of an organisation to spontaneously reconfigure resources to build new operational capabilities to address urgent, unpredictable and novel environmental situations”[i].  

Improvisational capabilities v dynamic capabilities

Improvisational capabilities are different from dynamic capabilities[ii] in that dynamic capabilities tend to be organisational capabilities and resources that are systematic, structured and have been planned to be flexible and have multi-functions or to change over time. Improvisation capabilities on the other hand are spontaneous, unplanned and unstructured based on decisions that have not been made previously. They tend to be based on decisions made in the moment to solve an immediate, new and unexpected issue.


[i] Pavlou, P. A., & El Sawy, O. A. (2010). The “third hand”: IT-enabled competitive advantage in turbulence through improvisational capabilities. Information systems research21(3), 443-471.

Cao, Y. (2013). Initiative-taking, Improvisational Capability, and Business Model Innovation in Emerging Markets (No. 2013-44). Copenhagen Discussion Papers.

MA, H. J., LIU, Y. Y., & HOU, M. L. (2015). An Empirical Study of IT-leveraging capability and Improvisational Capability. Information Science, (9), 20.

[ii] PAVLOU, P. A., & EL SAWY, O. A. (2007, August). When Do Improvisational Capabilities Trump Dynamic Capabilities?. In Academy of Management Proceedings (Vol. 2007, No. 1, pp. 1-5). Briarcliff Manor, NY 10510: Academy of Management.


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