What does captain cook have to tell us about culture? Contributions for a structural and historical approach to culture and organizations

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Current approaches to culture and organizations fail to define culture dynamics as inextricably wrapped up with the dynamics of cultural resources. Pursuing this goal, this paper aims to further develop the available theoretical anchoring of organizational culture dynamics. We delineate theoretical contributions and methodological implications of a structural and historical approach to culture and organizations. According to this approach, capturing culture dynamics implies studying culture as history and analyzing it as a process of social realization of cultural resources. Drawing upon Marshall Sahlins' classical interpretation of Captain Cook landing in Hawaii and on ethnographic and historic research findings in Rio Pardo, Brazil, we show how interested subjects creatively used their pre-existing cultural categories and schemes of practice as they committed to culturally grounded action strategies, enhancing their particular positions in relation to resources made available, while imposing contradictions to other interested groups that eventually had to be incorporated into cultural order. © The Author(s), 2009.