Author: Katherine Chen
Date of Publication: 2009
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
Enabling Creative Chaos tracks how a small, underfunded group of organizers transformed into an unconventional corporation with a ten-million-dollar budget and two thousand volunteers. Over the years, Burning Man’s organizers have experimented with different management models; learned how to recruit, motivate, and retain volunteers; and developed strategies to handle regulatory agencies and respond to media coverage. This remarkable evolution, Chen reveals, offers important lessons for managers in any organization, particularly in uncertain times.
From Administrative Science Quarterly
“Like the open source community and the foundational form it created, Burning Man is ultimately an organizational solution to a unique constellation of activities and pressures, which just happens to highlight, in Chen’s capable hands, the practical tensions between collectivism and bureaucracy and the enduring dilemma of over- and under-organizing. With that said, Chen’s analysis of Burning Man is likely to be particularly useful for those who lead, study, and teach about voluntary and non-profit organizations, of which Burning Man is a strange hybrid. … Enabling Creative Chaos is ultimately a strong ethnography of an extremely interesting and unique organization that provides considerable grist for thinking about broad organizing processes. It is also an interesting read about one of the strangest social events of our time.”
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