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The Symbolic Frame

The Symbolic Frame

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The Symbolic Frame

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  1. The Symbolic Frame Team 3 John Beadles Eva Liu Kim ThorellScott Crist

  2. Symbolic Frame: • What is most important about any event is not what happened but what it means. • Activity and meaning are loosely coupled: events have multiple meanings because people interpret experience differently. • Most of life is ambiguous or uncertain – what happened, why it happened, or what will happen next are all puzzles. • High levels of ambiguity and uncertainty undercut rational analysis, problem solving, and decision making. • In the face of uncertainty and ambiguity people create symbols to resolve confusion, increase predictability, provide direction, and anchor hope and faith. • Many events and processes are more important for what is expressed than what is produced. They form cultural tapestry of secular myths, rituals, ceremonies, and stories that help people find meaning, purpose, and passion.

  3. Organization as a Culture From Collins and Porras’s Built to Last (1994) “Cult-Like Cultures” - 4 common characteristics of cults that visionary companies display: - Fervently held ideology (core ideology) - Indoctrination: process of becoming a member. - Tightness of Fit: in a visionary company, people tend to fit well or not at all. - Elitism: part of something special, superior organization.

  4. Changing Frames • Looking through the Symbolic Frame: • Vision and inspiration are critical • People need something to believe in • People will give loyalty to an organization that has a unique identity and makes them feel what they do is important. • Relying heavily on organizational traditions and values as a base for building a common vision and culture that provides cohesiveness and meaning. • This approach works best when goals and information are unclear and ambiguous, where cause-effect relationships are poorly understood and where there is high cultural diversity.

  5. Organizational Symbols: Rituals & Ceremony • Rituals give structure and meaning to daily life. • “Rituals anchor us to a center while freeing us to move on and confront the ever-lasting unpredictability of life” (Fulghum, 1995). • Ceremonies are grander, more elaborate, less frequent occasions than rituals. (simpler day-to-day patterns) • Ceremonies serve four major roles: • They socialize, stabilize, reassure, and convey messages to external constituencies.

  6. Applying the Symbolic Frame • Organizations are judged primarily by appearance • Correct appearance rather than efficient production is the prevailing measure of effectiveness • Stage dramatic performance for internal & external audiences

  7. The End