Chapter 7: Is it the ‘Same’? Observing the Regeneration of Organizational Character at Camp Poplar Grove
1 Jeremy P. Birnholtz, Michael D. Cohen and Susannah V. Hoch 1. THE MIRACLE OF ORGANIZATIONAL REGENERATION ‘Organizational regeneration’, a phenomenon most clearly visible in seasonal organizations, such as summer camps and ski areas, is the process of reproducing an organization after a period of dormancy, often by training and guiding personnel who are largely new to their roles, or to the organization as a whole. This process presents a revealing instance of a fundamental problem facing all members of organizations and those who study them: how can we talk of an organization as being the same entity over time? How can we attribute properties today to a business, government agency, or school based on observations made yesterday? After nine months of inactivity, an established summer camp ‘comes back to life’. In general, campers, parents and staﬀ, while perhaps noticing some distinctive features of this year’s incarnation, regard the camp as the same one they have known from previous years. This is all too easily taken for granted. But looking carefully convinces us that it is a kind of small miracle, an occasion for wonder much like what one ﬁnds in the garden each spring. Our intent is to understand how such regeneration is possible. We believe that in doing so we can shed light on how groups develop and maintain the collective property of ‘being organized’. The Paradox of the [N]ever Changing World Many have argued (for example, Cohen, 1999; Pentland and Feldman, 2002) that when studying recurring...
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