Date of Award

5-22-2004

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Liberal Studies (MALS)

Department

Liberal Studies

First Reader

Sheldon Solomon

Second Reader

Elizabeth Lepkowska

Abstract

This inquiry considers the social psychology dimension of organizational behavior by examining how play influences corporate culture. It asserts that by thoughtfully introducing playfulness into the work setting, any entity can experience a transformation that improves overall organizational effectiveness. With a current business climate characterized by economic globalization, sociopolitical upheaval, and intense competition, enterprises must rely on internal human capital to remain viable. Thus, the origins, forms, and functions of play provide a broad and diverse framework that ultimately leads to the description of such organizational play behaviors as celebrations, rituals, and ceremonies. To establish a business context for the study, the development of modern management philosophy is traced from the earliest classical school ideologies to the most contemporary integrative approaches. Managerial manipulation of play can potentially generate such undesirable consequences as corporate cultism, intellectual stagnation, or widespread cynicism if work dominates and intrudes upon employees' private lives. Conversely, the more desirable outcomes of boundless creativity, unfettered innovation, and coordinated teamwork have a higher probability of flourishing when structural rigidity is loosened with the introduction of play into the workplace. In the latter scenario, companies can reap the tangible benefits of improved profitability, longer employee retention, and increased sales. The findings of this descriptive review strongly suggest that organizations can become more adaptive and responsive to constantly shifting marketplace demands when their corporate culture is enhanced and strengthened through the integration of work and play.

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