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Gaffers, Gofers and Grips: Role-Based Coordination in Temporary Organizations
Unformatted Document Text:  25 what tasks and behaviors belonged to what roles. By serving as relays, for example, PAs were exposed to the types of activities that members of each department expected of the others. Also, the call sheet repetitively reinforced the role structure, as it listed the members of each department with their titles, in the order of their hierarchy. These communication practices were a means for broadcasting and coordinating tasks as well as making role expectations visible. Making role expectations visible The interactions experienced by crew members on the set as they went about their work were the key element of coordination in action, as they directed tasks at the same time that they communicated role expectations. Film productions were characterized by explicit and immediate positive and negative feedback with regard to role expectations. The career structure and the nature of the temporary total institution also encouraged politeness, gratuitous gratitude, and role-oriented humor. Supported by the communication practices described above, these interactions provided crew members with clear signals about tasks, behaviors and expectations of their roles as well as the roles of others and the relationships between them. Explicit and immediate feedback and gratitude One way in which crew members’ role behaviors were supported and corrected was through explicit, immediate feedback on both their appropriate and inappropriate role enactments. Positive feedback was frequent and enthusiastic. Crew members were often told directly that they were enacting their roles well. Because many role enactments happened within view of others, it was relatively easy to provide this feedback immediately. The gaffer on Murder Mansion, for example, while watching the PA

Authors: Bechky, Beth.
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what tasks and behaviors belonged to what roles. By serving as relays, for example, PAs
were exposed to the types of activities that members of each department expected of the
others. Also, the call sheet repetitively reinforced the role structure, as it listed the
members of each department with their titles, in the order of their hierarchy. These
communication practices were a means for broadcasting and coordinating tasks as well as
making role expectations visible.
Making role expectations visible
The interactions experienced by crew members on the set as they went about their
work were the key element of coordination in action, as they directed tasks at the same
time that they communicated role expectations. Film productions were characterized by
explicit and immediate positive and negative feedback with regard to role expectations.
The career structure and the nature of the temporary total institution also encouraged
politeness, gratuitous gratitude, and role-oriented humor. Supported by the
communication practices described above, these interactions provided crew members
with clear signals about tasks, behaviors and expectations of their roles as well as the
roles of others and the relationships between them.
Explicit and immediate feedback and gratitude
One way in which crew members’ role behaviors were supported and corrected
was through explicit, immediate feedback on both their appropriate and inappropriate role
enactments. Positive feedback was frequent and enthusiastic. Crew members were often
told directly that they were enacting their roles well. Because many role enactments
happened within view of others, it was relatively easy to provide this feedback
immediately. The gaffer on Murder Mansion, for example, while watching the PA


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