Enabling Creative Chaos: The Organization Behind the Burning by Katherine K. Chen

By Katherine K. Chen

In the summer of 2008, approximately fifty thousand humans traveled to Nevada’s Black Rock wasteland to take part within the countercultural arts occasion Burning guy. based on a dedication to expression and neighborhood, the once a year weeklong pageant offers distinct demanding situations to its organizers. Over 4 years Katherine ok. Chen frequently participated in organizing efforts to soundly and effectively create a short lived group in the course of the desolate tract below the new August sun. Enabling artistic Chaos tracks how a small, underfunded workforce of organizers remodeled into an unconventional company with a ten-million-dollar finances and thousand volunteers. through the years, Burning Man’s organizers have experimented with diversified administration versions; realized how one can recruit, inspire, and continue volunteers; and built suggestions to deal with regulatory companies and reply to media assurance. This notable evolution, Chen finds, bargains very important classes for managers in any association, quite in doubtful instances.

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In particular, without guidelines on how to propose ideas and reach agreement in decision making, members risk continual misunderstandings. Ambiguous decisions can fuel counterproductive efforts, as members may act on incorrect interpretations of decisions ( Jones and Schneider 1984), forcing members to revisit issues. In generating consensus, members may resort to lowest-common-denominator, suboptimal decisions (Freeman 1973; Greenwood and Santos 1991; Jones and Schneider 1984; Mansbridge 1983; Rothschild and Whitt 1986; Schwartzman 1989).

However, practices intended to promote group cohesion can also trigger resistance and cynicism from those who resent such overt manipulation (Biggart 1989; Graham 1995; Kunda 1992; Weeks 2004). In addition, participatory practices such as teamwork can form the basis for worker solidarity against managers (Vallas 2006; Videla 2006). Moreover, informal group norms may encourage employees to violate rules, generating undesired consequences (Hodson 2001). For instance, group norms encourage police officers to exert excessive force against civilians.

John Law, Michael Mikel, and Larry Harvey formed a legal partnership, in which the partners assumed liability for the event of four thousand persons. 29 Although most of the organizers lacked extensive business or conventional organizing experience,30 their aspirations and persistence shepherded the event through expansive growth. Rectifying Underorganizing: 1996–1997 Most organizers and attendees marked 1996 and 1997 as pivotal years in the development of the event and organization. Ironically, the 1996 event featured Dante’s Inferno, or Hell, as its theme.

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