Organizations increasingly face surprises with regularity, yet little is known about how they develop the responses to unexpected events that enable their work to continue. We compare ethnographic data from two types of organizations that regularly deal with surprises, a police SWAT team and film production crews. We find that individuals engage in organizational bricolage, restructuring their activities by role shifting, reorganizing routines, and reassembling the work. Organizational bricolage depends on the sociocognitive resources that group members develop by drafting agreement on the work, reinforcing and elaborating task activities, and building cross-member expertise.


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