Literally meaning taking bits and pieces, scraps and making something that (hopefully) looks good.    Bricolage is what a bricoleur does…

In the practical arts and the fine arts, bricolage (French for “DIY” or “do-it-yourself projects”) is the construction or creation of a work from a diverse range of things that happen to be available, or a work created by such a process.

The term bricolage has also been used in many other fields, including philosophy, critical theory, education, computer software, and business.

See also the Garbage Can

Institutional bricolage in times of crisis

Martin B. Carstensen

Department of Business and Politics, Copenhagen Business School, Denmark


How may we understand the occurrence of gradual but significant change following economic crisis? Theories of gradual institutional transformation offer important insights to analyses of long-term institutional change, but have so far shied away from dealing with institutional change during and following crisis, leaving the issue to more traditional critical juncture models. Instead of seeing gradual institutional change originating only in the efforts of rule takers to circumvent existing institutions – potentially leading to gradual change over longer periods of time – the paper suggests that in more abrupt processes of change characteristic of economic crisis, rule makers may also reinterpret the meaning of rules and redeploy them under significantly altered circumstances leading to gradual change. The paper suggests that the concept of bricolage is useful for understanding how policymakers create new institutional setups through the re-ordering of existing institutional elements. The empirical relevance of these arguments is demonstrated with a study of post-crisis special bank insolvency policies in Denmark and the United States, showing how in both polities new institutions were created from existing institutional elements.


“In information systems, bricolage is used by Claudio Ciborra to describe the way in which strategic information systems (SIS) can be built in order to maintain successful competitive advantage over a longer period of time than standard SIS. By valuing tinkering and allowing SIS to evolve from the bottom-up, rather than implementing it from the top-down, the firm will end up with something that is deeply rooted in the organisational culture that is specific to that firm and is much less easily imitated”

Karl Weick identifies the following requirements for successful bricolage in organizations.[6]

  • Intimate knowledge of resources

  • Careful observation and listening

  • Trusting one’s ideas

  • Self-correcting structures, with feedback

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