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The concept of routines: some clarifications


  • Markus C. Becker


The concept of an 'organisational routine' is central to the evolutionary theory of the firm. However, the concept itself is still unclear. There is not much consensus in the literature regarding its dimensions, its characteristics and its functions. Despite increasing use of the concept, not much conceptual progress has been made in recent years, as remarked by several of the leading writers on the topic. The objective of this paper is to contribute to further theoretical development of the concept of 'organisational routine', and to elaborate the research agenda on organisational routines. Both of these measures contribute to clarifying the concept and enabling its application in empirical research in the social sciences, thereby unlocking its potential for understanding organisations and organisational change. Several problems for conceptual progress are identified. Implications for the conceptualisation of 'organisational routines', and for the research agenda on organisational routines are drawn. Copyright 2005, Oxford University Press.

Suggested Citation

  • Markus C. Becker, 2005. "The concept of routines: some clarifications," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 29(2), pages 249-262, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:cambje:v:29:y:2005:i:2:p:249-262

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    Cited by:

    1. Mace, Karen & Morlon, Pierre & Munier-Jolain, Nicolas & Quere, Lionel, 2007. "Time scales as a factor in decision-making by French farmers on weed management in annual crops," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 93(1-3), pages 115-142, March.
    2. Cohendet Patrick & Llerena Patrick & Simon Laurent, 2014. "The Routinization of Creativity: Lessons from the Case of a Video-game Creative Powerhouse," Journal of Economics and Statistics (Jahrbuecher fuer Nationaloekonomie und Statistik), De Gruyter, vol. 234(2-3), pages 120-141, April.
    3. Bhawe, Nachiket & Gupta, Vishal K. & Pollack, Jeffrey M., 2017. "Founder exits and firm performance: An exploratory study," Journal of Business Venturing Insights, Elsevier, vol. 8(C), pages 114-122.
    4. Sangyoon Yi & Thorbjørn Knudsen & Markus C. Becker, 2016. "Inertia in Routines: A Hidden Source of Organizational Variation," Organization Science, INFORMS, vol. 27(3), pages 782-800, June.
    5. Andrei M. Korbut, 2016. "Electronic Health Records and Clinical Routines: Convergence and Divergenc," HSE Working papers WP BRP 130/HUM/2016, National Research University Higher School of Economics.
    6. Andrea Furlan & Roberto Grandinetti, 2018. "Can routines be inherited? A microfoundational approach to spinoffs," "Marco Fanno" Working Papers 0217, Dipartimento di Scienze Economiche "Marco Fanno".
    7. Ugo Rizzo & Daniela Freddi & Laura Ramaciotti, 2015. "The Impact of New Scientific Knowledge on Firms’ Routines and Capabilities: The Case of Mechatronics," International Journal of Innovation and Technology Management (IJITM), World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd., vol. 12(06), pages 1-20, December.
    8. Burr, Wolfgang & Frohwein, Torsten, 2012. "Regelbrüche in Organisationen," Research Papers on Innovation, Services and Technology 1/2012, University of Stuttgart, Institute of Business Administration, Department I - Institute of Research & Development and Innovation Management.
    9. Brueller, Nir N. & Ellis, Shmuel & Segev, Eli & Carmeli, Abraham, 2015. "Knowing when to acquire: The case of multinational technology firms," International Business Review, Elsevier, vol. 24(1), pages 1-10.
    10. Curtis LeBaron & Marlys K. Christianson & Lyndon Garrett & Roy Ilan, 2016. "Coordinating Flexible Performance During Everyday Work: An Ethnomethodological Study of Handoff Routines," Organization Science, INFORMS, vol. 27(3), pages 514-534, June.
    11. Brian T. Pentland & Thorvald Hærem & Derek Hillison, 2011. "The (N)Ever-Changing World: Stability and Change in Organizational Routines," Organization Science, INFORMS, vol. 22(6), pages 1369-1383, December.
    12. Joanna Paliszkiewicz, 2011. "Trust Management: Reason, Routine and Reflexivity," MIC 2011: Managing Sustainability? Proceedings of the 12th International Conference, Portorož, 23–26 November 2011 [Selected Papers],, University of Primorska, Faculty of Management Koper.

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