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Organizational routines as a unit of analysis


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  • Brian T. Pentland
  • Martha S. Feldman
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    Organizational routines can be conceptualized as generative systems with internal structures and dynamics. In this paper, we propose three different ways that organizational routines can be approached as a unit of analysis. One option is to treat the entire routine as an undifferentiated 'black box'. A second option is to study particular parts of the routine in isolation (e.g. routines as patterns of action). A third option is to study the relationships between these parts and the processes by which the parts change. For some questions, routines can be taken as a unit of analysis without considering their internal structure, but there are many research questions for which it is useful to consider the parts of routines either separately or as they interact. We discuss the importance of understanding the internal structure and dynamics of organizational routines for exploring core organizational phenomena such as stability, change, flexibility, learning and transfer. Copyright 2005, Oxford University Press.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Oxford University Press in its journal Industrial and Corporate Change.

    Volume (Year): 14 (2005)
    Issue (Month): 5 (October)
    Pages: 793-815

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    Handle: RePEc:oup:indcch:v:14:y:2005:i:5:p:793-815

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    Cited by:
    1. Mike Hales & Joe Tidd, 2007. "Routines and representations at work - observing the architecture of conceptual design," SPRU Working Paper Series, SPRU - Science and Technology Policy Research, University of Sussex 157, SPRU - Science and Technology Policy Research, University of Sussex.
    2. D'Adderio, Luciana, 2008. "The performativity of routines: Theorising the influence of artefacts and distributed agencies on routines dynamics," Research Policy, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 37(5), pages 769-789, June.
    3. Paul Peigné, 2013. "Routines during an organizational change: a study on dynamics and its effects," Post-Print, HAL hal-00876163, HAL.
    4. Martin Woerter, 2009. "Industry diversity and its impact on the innovation performance of firms," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, Springer, vol. 19(5), pages 675-700, October.
    5. M. Laura Frigotto & Marco Zamarian, 2013. "Resilience and specialization in volatile environments:evidence from the Italian Air Force Tornado crews learning practices," DEM Discussion Papers, Department of Economics and Management 2013/17, Department of Economics and Management.
    6. Böhling, Kathrin, 2009. "Symbolic knowledge at work: Comitology and learning from experts in European technology policy," Discussion Papers, Research Unit: Global Governance, Social Science Research Center Berlin (WZB) SP IV 2009-301, Social Science Research Center Berlin (WZB).
    7. Burr, Wolfgang & Frohwein, Torsten, 2012. "Regelbrüche in Organisationen," Research Papers on Innovation, Services and Technology, University of Stuttgart, Institute of Business Administration, Department I - Institute of Research & Development and Innovation Management 1/2012, University of Stuttgart, Institute of Business Administration, Department I - Institute of Research & Development and Innovation Management.
    8. Allan Hansen, 2011. "Relating performative and ostensive management accounting research: Reflections on case study methodology," Qualitative Research in Accounting & Management, Emerald Group Publishing, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 8(2), pages 108-138, June.
    9. Antoine Blanc & Isabelle Huault, 2011. "Against the Digital Revolution?," Post-Print, HAL halshs-00685464, HAL.
    10. Rémi Jardat, 2008. "How Democratic Internal Law Leads To Low Cost Efficient Processes : Practices As A Medium Of Interaction Between Institution And Organization," Post-Print, HAL hal-00485773, HAL.
    11. Batista, Maria da Graca & Cunha, Miguel Pina e, 2008. "Improvisation In Tightly Controlled Work Environments: The Case Of Medical Practice," FEUNL Working Paper Series, Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Faculdade de Economia wp537, Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Faculdade de Economia.
    12. Saka-Helmhout, Ayse, 2010. "Organizational learning as a situated routine-based activity in international settings," Journal of World Business, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 45(1), pages 41-48, January.
    13. Howard Aldrich & Tiantian Yang, 2014. "How do entrepreneurs know what to do? learning and organizing in new ventures," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, Springer, vol. 24(1), pages 59-82, January.
    14. Martijn van der Steen, 2011. "The emergence and change of management accounting routines," Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, Emerald Group Publishing, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 24(4), pages 502-547, May.
    15. Huang, Tsu-Te (Andrew) & Chen, Le & Stewart, Rodney A. & Panuwatwanich, Kriengsak, 2013. "Leveraging power of learning capability upon manufacturing operations," International Journal of Production Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 145(1), pages 233-252.


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