Bricolage and Identity Work

Klaasjan Visscher (Corresponding Author), Stefan Heusinkveld, Joe O'Mahoney

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    23 Citations (Scopus)
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    Lévi-Strauss’ concept of bricolage has been used widely in a variety of management and organizational studies to highlight creative ‘situational tinkering’. Yet, we know little about ‘the bricoleur’ beyond the assumption of a functional agent responding to conditions of resource scarcity or environmental complexity. As such, studies offer limited possibilities in explaining the occurrence of bricolage in the absence of external demands, or much about who the bricoleur is. Drawing on 136 in-depth interviews with management consultants, this study argues for a richer understanding of bricolage by exploring the identity of the bricoleur. In doing so, the paper achieves three outcomes. First, it uses the original symbolic and cultural insights of bricolage made by Lévi-Strauss to detail how bricoleur identities are constructed; Second, it highlights how different organizational strategies enable and constrain the pursuit of bricoleur identities; Finally, it emphasizes the bricoleur's status as primarily an aspirational elite identity in the context of consultancy work, in contrast to its usual treatment as a ‘low status’ activity.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)356-372
    Number of pages17
    JournalBritish journal of management
    Issue number2
    Early online date17 Mar 2017
    Publication statusPublished - 15 Apr 2018


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