Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2013

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Matt Koschmann

Second Advisor

Timothy Kuhn

Fourth Advisor

Karen Lee Ashcraft


This MA thesis is a grounded, inductive, and qualitative study on improvisational workshops for businesses. It poses questions as to how improvisational workshops are different from other forms of experiential learning and team building activities. In addition, it looks at how improvisation versus improvisational workshops is framed in the literature. Due to the discrepancies in how improvisation and improvisational workshops are discussed, I investigate how participants make sense of improvisational workshops. In order to explore these questions, I observed an improvisational workshop at a local theater company and conducted subsequent interviews with participants. This study found that while the manager’s attended the same workshop, their responses were fairly inconsistent with one another and at times inconsistent with the literature and the facilitator of the workshop. Therefore, I utilize the lens of sensemaking and the notion of how plausibility is favored over accuracy to explore participants’ plausible responses; and how the improvisational workshop "worked" due to the distributed nature of this community of branch managers and their multiple meanings of improvisation.