Orchestras: A Model for Social and Organizational Development


, ,

Series: Business Issues, Competition and Entrepreneurship
BISAC: BUS108000

The symphony orchestra as an organizational form models how 21st century societies and business enterprises could operate. The onset of the digital age, sometimes called the fourth industrial revolution, has brought with it unprecedented challenges to organizing and leading. With so few exemplars available to show us the way, we have been all too ready to embrace digitization in our communication strategies, structural arrangements and educational processes without thinking through and resolving the deleterious effects that these technologies have on human beings, both at work and play.

The rise of social media sites, which keep people connected across geographical and temporal boundaries, have paradoxically created isolated and lonely human beings. In some cases, lone actors have taken out their personal angst on others through the murderous use of military-style weapons, live-streaming their terror to their globalized audiences.

In the face of this seemingly unstoppable tide of growing discarnate communities and workplaces, the symphony orchestra asks to pause and explore embodied ways of operating. This book demonstrates that people can form vibrant communities by learning how an orchestra performs. We discuss the engine room of the orchestra: the string musicians’ keen sense of timing and being together with each other and the rest of the ensemble. Equally, the woodwind players help us understand tuning and how to work with variable intervals in order to achieve consistent intonation across the cohort.

Orchestral musicians listen intently to each other, and the conductor plays an important role in achieving cohesion. This relationship between the conductor and the musicians demonstrates ways of leading that attend to the dynamic environment, which characterizes orchestral music-making.

The symphony orchestra presents a model for social and organizational development that goes beyond standardization and its resulting approximation, which in music terms is called ‘equal temperament’. Organizations can achieve the much-promised excellence and efficiency when all staff understand the non-standard variations in music intervals that characterize orchestral performance. The orchestra models the relational elements that underpin organizing: ways of reconfiguring society beyond the political and social divides that trouble communities across the globe.
(Imprint: Nova)

Table of Contents

Table of Contents



Chapter 1. Introduction

Chapter 2. These Revolutionary Times

Chapter 3. A Brief History of the Orchestra

Chapter 4. Strings: The Engine Room

Chapter 5. Woodwind: Getting in Tune

Chapter 6. Conductors: Silent Leadership

Chapter 7. Conductor Carlos Kleiber and the Concertgebouw Orchestra

Chapter 8. Orchestrating Organizations

Chapter 9. The Orchestra in a Traumatized City: The CSO 105

Chapter 10. Orchestras Global and Local: West-Eastern Divan, and Orpheus

Chapter 11. Finding Dionysus



“It is refreshing to see the authors practice what they preach. They present a beautifully orchestrated argument that seamlessly weaves together musical and organisational theory in an elegantly clear and precise manner. The new and even the not so new lessons they derive will inspire business, public and community leaders to revitalise and deepen their practice.” – <strong>Brad Jackson, Professor of Social Innovation, Griffith Business School</strong>

“Bathurst, Gilling, and Rasmussen draw on their talents as both scholars and artists to make the bold suggestion that orchestras offer a model of how we might better organize to increase connection and success in our endeavors as we enter the fourth industrial revolution. Neither scholars who are not also artists nor artists who are not also scholars could have written this deeply insightful work. I am glad that these three are both – the world needs more of this.” – <strong>Steve Taylor Professor of Leadership & Creativity, Foisie Business School, Worcester Polytechnic Institute. Editor-in-Chief: <i>Organizational Aesthetics </i></strong>

“This fascinating book is beautifully written, and passionate about orchestras, music and life. It makes you look at orchestras, organizations, creativity and leadership through a wholly refreshing lens. You will be entertained, informed and inspired by its contents.” – <strong>Dennis Tourish, Professor of Leadership and Organisation Studies, University of Sussex. Editor: <i>Leadership</i></strong>

Keywords: Communication, Ensemble, Gesture, Listening, Politics

Audience: Organizational consultants, leadership practitioners and scholars, managers of arts organizations, business students

Publish with Nova Science Publishers

We publish over 800 titles annually by leading researchers from around the world. Submit a Book Proposal Now!