Routines, genes and program-based behaviour
AbstractIt is argued that the ‘routines as genes’ analogy is misleading in several respects. Neither genes nor routines program behaviour, if this is taken to involve, first, that they determine behaviour and, second, that they do so in a way that excludes conscious, deliberate choice. On a proper understanding of ‘gene’ and ‘routine’, knowledge of genes and routines falls far short of predicting behaviour. Furthermore, conscious, deliberate choice is not ruled out when genes or routines are operating. There is a sense in which it can be maintained that genes are (or act as) programs and that individual behaviour is based on them. Such programs might display considerable stability, but their causal impact on behaviour is so remote and indirect that knowing them has little predictive power. It might be possible to identify programs also at levels of organization higher than that of genes that have greater predictive power, but such programs are likely to be unstable over time. On a non-inflationary understanding of ‘routines’, individual organization members can be viewed as programs on which the smooth functioning of routines is based. This is a far cry from the claim that routines determine firm behaviour, let alone from the claim that they are key success variables in explaining how well (in terms of profitability) firms perform.
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Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by Max Planck Institute of Economics, Evolutionary Economics Group in its series Papers on Economics and Evolution with number 2004-20.
Length: 30 pages
Date of creation: Dec 2004
Date of revision:
Find related papers by JEL classification:
- A12 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Relation of Economics to Other Disciplines
- B41 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - Economic Methodology - - - Economic Methodology
- B52 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - Current Heterodox Approaches - - - Institutional; Evolutionary
- D21 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Firm Behavior: Theory
- D23 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Organizational Behavior; Transaction Costs; Property Rights
This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
- NEP-ALL-2005-01-09 (All new papers)
- NEP-CBE-2005-01-09 (Cognitive & Behavioural Economics)
- NEP-HPE-2005-01-09 (History & Philosophy of Economics)
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
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- Michael D. Cohen & Roger Burkhart & Giovanni Dosi & Massimo Egidi & Luigi Marengo & Massimo Warglien & Sidney Winter & with comments by Benjamin Coriat, 1995.
"Routines and Other Recurring Action Patterns of Organizations: Contemporary Research Issues,"
95-11-101, Santa Fe Institute.
- Cohen, Michael D, et al, 1996. "Routines and Other Recurring Action Patterns of Organizations: Contemporary Research Issues," Industrial and Corporate Change, Oxford University Press, vol. 5(3), pages 653-98.
- Foster, John, 1997. "The analytical foundations of evolutionary economics: From biological analogy to economic self-organization," Structural Change and Economic Dynamics, Elsevier, vol. 8(4), pages 427-451, October.
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