Dogging it at work : developing and performing organizational routines as a minor league baseball mascot
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Referring to an employee as “the face” of an organization suggests that an individual worker’s actions may transmit information about the kind of organization they represent. Mascots in a baseball stadium make that metaphor material by wearing an organizationally prescribed mask and performing in the name of the organization (Keller & Richey, 2006; MacNeill, 2009). This study investigated how one baseball mascot, Spike of the Round Rock Express, embodied his team’s identity through the activation of organizational routines by analyzing video recordings, autoethnographic field notes, and stories (Heath & Luff, 2013). Recognizing the highly symbolic work of a mascot work has implications for the performer, audience members, and organizations who rely on mascots to enhance the stadium experience. Additionally, this research provides suggestions for future mascot performers on how they might come to “know your role and play it to the hilt” (Devantier & Turkington, 2006). Organizational routines combine three recursive dimensions: the ostensive, understandings an employee brings to his or her work, the performative, actions an employee takes while doing his or her work, and the artifactual, material objects an employee uses or creates in order to facilitate work tasks (Feldman & Pentland, 2003). This research begins with an exploration of how I developed occupational and organizational role expectations. In order to know my role, I had to learn Spike’s identity: what he must do, may do, and can do (Strauss, 1959; Enfield, 2011). I specifically recognize the ways I came to understand my role as someone who embodies the mission of the organization through the preparation of artifacts for performance and protection of the audience for whom I am performing. The performative dimension is explored by identifying instances when my performance challenged established understandings of Spike’s identity, specifically in instances where I was unprepared for a scenario or chose to protect one group’s interest over another’s. In these unanticipated moments, I often found myself turning other participants in the stadium event, like fans and coworkers, into co-performers and relied on their improvisational offerings to inform my ongoing performance (Eisenberg, 1990; Meyer, Frost, & Weick, 1998).