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Bass -

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Academy of Management Proceedings






Much of the work in contemporary organizations could be considered adaptive work: it requires individuals to deviate from routines to meet the needs of changing contexts. Yet, despite this, the dynamics of adaptive work have been largely underexplored. In this paper, we address this by exploring adaptive work as a micro-dynamic of organizational adaptability by focusing on different symbols individuals use in their work. We discover that individuals use exogenous (symbols surrounding the work) and endogenous (symbols within the work) symbols to insert variability into the work and adapt to unexpected events. Exogenous symbols create adaptive space where variability and routine coexist while endogenous symbols both link and disrupt routines thus enabling individuals to adapt to new circumstances. To this end, our study unpacks the practices that constitute adaptive work and adds clarity to the literature on organizational adaptation from the micro level of analysis.


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Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.