Human capital and structural capital are inseparable. While each has distinctive qualities, human capital and structural capital are essentially related and dependent upon each other. This was the finding I found which further deepened my investigation to answer the question of “how is IC used in community orchestras?” This last article will detail and provide summaries of how Intellectual Capital (IC) is used in community orchestras.
All organizations, teams, and small groups participate by using a generic set of what Wanda Orlikowski of MIT calls, organizational practices.These practices are generic in that they are manifested in every organization, but the shape they take is dependent on the particular attributes, leadership, and product/service of the organization. By connecting the interrelatedness of human capital and structural capital to organizational practices, we have an clues as to how orchestras use IC.
Orlikowski separates organizational practices into a classification of five generic actions:
- Sharing Identity—knowing the organization
- Interacting face-to-face—knowing the players in the organization
- Alignment of effort—knowing how to coordinate
- Learning by doing—knowing how to learn or experiment
- Supporting participation—participation is encouraged and guided
Participants engage in the activities and purpose of an organization through these practices. Individuals enact (practices) what they know (human capital) through processes (structural capital). My overall focus was to identify and link the relatedness or network connectivity of human capital and structural capital (previous article) to specific practices.In doing this, leaders and managers of community orchestras would have a map of how work is accomplished. The implications of this are enormous—change one part of structural capital and it has an impact on human capital and the organizational practice in which each are enacted!In spite of the tangled network of complexities, they are important to understand in NPOs and community orchestras.
The challenge was to filter the interrelated combinations of human capital, structural capital, and how they are used via organizational practices. There were several potential variables.For this task a survey and factor analysis were used.Leaving aside the statistical jargon, I used a process called factor analysis that basically extracts common attributes of data. The data came from survey questions of which were constructed as mere questions to the reader but “subversively” based on human capital, structural capital, and organizational practices.Interview responses provided a rich field towards constructing the probing survey questions. The following table exhibits the results of the survey and analysis.Readers may reference the previous article’s table, “Interrelationships of Human Capital and Structural Capital” for the particulars of each.
An immediate review of the table reveals what was discovered in the previous article: the relatedness of human capital and structural capital. However, we also find that the relatedness of both human capital and structural capital are enacted through organizational practices. That is, human capital and structural capital are used in community orchestras through organizational practices. Leveraging the most out of a community orchestra’s IC resource means understanding the reality of how they are used and what is related. This network effect, while complex, represents the dynamics of IC as part of an organization’s way of doing work. The following value map illustrates the network effect in the form of a value map.3
Noteworthy is the accumulation of interacting human capital and structural capital around “processes & routines”, “skills & techniques”, “orchestra structure”, and “process participation skills”, all of which are linked to “focal point symbols” (principally the conductor). This level of intersection suggests not only the central area of activity, but also the shape of work that characterizes orchestras. If organizational change or development is to take place, it must take into account how the core product (music) is produced in conjunction with the human capital involved. A brief discussion of each practice is now in order.
Alignment of Effort
For this particular practice, coordination is the goal. And, coordination is generally achieved through metrics of success ranging from everyday objectives to quarterly milestones. For purposes of this study, coordination ultimately was focused on the performance of the music for a concert. Bringing together all of the members of the orchestra towards a common end requires the use of both human capital and structural capital.Skills and techniques coupled with focal point symbols (i.e. conductor in this case) yields what we generally know about how orchestras operate. A guiding principle can be derived:
- Coordination will necessarily require constant guidance and interaction between individual know-how and focal symbol points. Know-how needs to be linked to guidance and leadership not only in music but in all the tasks essential to a community orchestra’s function.
Noteworthy is also the connection of the rehearsal process to participation skills in aligning effort. One orchestra member discusses the connections like this:
“Focused effort on my part is important. I really have to concentrate. The worst part is counting rests. It’s much harder for me than playing. Add to that, I have to understand what the conductor wants and what he’s trying to accomplish. Where is he coming from and where is he going? If that’s not enough, I have to listen to everybody. That’s why attendance is so essential.”
Processes cannot be separated from the varied individuals that give life to the process. Change a part of the process and you necessarily will impact, positive or negative, the numerous individuals participation and skill they being into the process.
- Changes in how a community orchestra provides its product will impact both the process and individuals that participate in the process.
- By extension, changing or implementing other processes in the community orchestra’s work will impact such processes and individuals involved. Is there a mismatch between skill types and the change to be implemented? This is particularly an acute issue when dealing with NPOs and volunteers but also by organizations rooted deeply in cultural practices and history, like orchestras.
Individuals want to be a part of groups. It’s how we’re made: to be social. Identifying with being a part of a community orchestra allows individuals to further give of what they make of the work (i.e. music) to their community. This isn’t surprising since the community orchestra is acting out what it should be doing: being a human change-agent.
“The role of music in society is critical…..particularly orchestral music versus popular music. The orchestra doesn’t act as a museum. It raises the cultural bar and provides the community a rich cultural environment. It benefits people that can experience live orchestral music in the hectic world we live in.”
Individuals participate by virtue of meeting their personal goals.
- What are the aspirations and goals of members in the community orchestra? Are such goals aligned with the tasks asked of them outside of music performance?
- Knowing the organization is action oriented and embedded in learning music, performing music, and working with others. How can this be leveraged towards not only performance goals but also the several tasks needed to keep a community orchestra functioning?
- People volunteer in the orchestra to make a difference. How are their skills leveraged to make a difference and how does this spill over into attaining greater participation in activities needed in the community orchestra’s operations?
Participation is supported in community orchestras when individuals can calibrate their skills in collaboration with the orchestra as a whole.
“Rehearsals are intense. Especially those rehearsals where we just go over piece by piece in a particular section. Interaction among the sections while playing is great and the conductor loves it when it’s right. It’s magic when it pops and everyone has their part!”
There is enjoyment in making music for these community volunteers. Their participation is encouraged and supported by virtue of the organization’s structure, and individual participation skills.
- Keeping individuals (talent) means constantly cultivating the connection between their participation and the current structure of doing work.
- When participation of individuals is supported, through structures and processes, they further identify with the organization.
- How can the above be extended to the other needed activities to keep the community orchestra operating?
Learning by Doing
Finally, learning requires and individual to have a base of skills. Within and organizational context, learning involves others while also bringing in the participation of individuals.
- NPOs and community orchestras alike learn as organizations but such learning is grounded in individual competencies and how individuals participate.
- Learning is best accomplished by doing the task. For rehearsals and other orchestra functions, how often is experimentation fostered? Experimentation in the rehearsal process, fund-raising, and the daily activities of operations.
Over the course of nine months, I grappled with data, rehearsal schedules, performance dates, and interview schedules to compile the essential components of what constitutes human capital and structural capital in community orchestras. Conspicuously absent was the study of relational capital, the attributes of what constitutes the organization’s relationship with customers, patrons, the community and the like. This study invites examination into this area as it relates to the purpose of the community orchestra. Such a study could also enlighten the orchestra on products, services, contributions and other fund raising issues.
Another limitation is that the study was conducted on a community orchestra. A study on a series of professional orchestras would no doubt reveal components of human capital and structural capital that are unique to professional orchestras but also could provide clarity on management, leadership, and organizational culture.
2 Mesa, William B. (2010), “The composition of intellectual capital in non-profit community orchestras”, Journal of Intellectual Capital, Vol. 11 No. 2 Special Issue IC and Non-Profits in the Knowledge Economy.