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A model of cognitive and operational memory of organizations in changing worlds

Author

Listed:
  • Giovanni Dosi
  • Luigi Marengo
  • Evita Paraskevopoulou
  • Marco Valente

Abstract

This work analyzes and models the nature and dynamics of organizational memory, as such an essential ingredient of organizational capabilities that determine strategic choices in different competitive environments. There are two sides to it, namely a cognitive side, involving the beliefs and interpretative frameworks by which the organization categorizes the states of the world and its own internal states, and an operational one, including routines and procedures that store the knowledge of how to do things. We formalize both types of memory by means of evolving systems of condition-action rules and investigate their performance in different environments characterized by varying degrees of complexity and non-stationarity. Broadly speaking, in simple and stable environments memory does not matter, provided it satisfies some minimal requirements. In more complex and gradually changing ones, having more memory provides an advantage. However, there is some critical level of environmental instability above which forgetfulness is evolutionary superior from the point of view of long-term performance. Moreover, above some (modest) complexity threshold, stable and robust cognitive categorizations and routinized behaviour emerge.

Suggested Citation

  • Giovanni Dosi & Luigi Marengo & Evita Paraskevopoulou & Marco Valente, 2017. "A model of cognitive and operational memory of organizations in changing worlds," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 41(3), pages 775-806.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:cambje:v:41:y:2017:i:3:p:775-806.
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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1093/cje/bew067
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Marco Valente & Andrea Bassanini & Luigi Marengo & Giovanni Dosi, 1999. "Norms as emergent properties of adaptive learning: The case of economic routines," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 9(1), pages 5-26.
    2. Kaplan, Sarah & Tripsas, Mary, 2008. "Thinking about technology: Applying a cognitive lens to technical change," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 37(5), pages 790-805, June.
    3. Kent D. Miller & Brian T. Pentland & Seungho Choi, 2012. "Dynamics of Performing and Remembering Organizational Routines," Journal of Management Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 49(8), pages 1536-1558, December.
    4. Jerker. Denrell & Christina. Fang & Daniel A. Levinthal, 2004. "From T-Mazes to Labyrinths: Learning from Model-Based Feedback," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 50(10), pages 1366-1378, October.
    5. Dosi, Giovanni & Marengo, Luigi, 2015. "The dynamics of organizational structures and performances under diverging distributions of knowledge and different power structures," Journal of Institutional Economics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 11(3), pages 535-559, September.
    6. Dosi, G & Egidi, M, 1991. "Substantive and Procedural Uncertainty: An Exploration of Economic Behaviours in Changing Environments," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 1(2), pages 145-168, April.
    7. Marco Valente, 2014. "An NK-like model for complexity," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 24(1), pages 107-134, January.
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    Cited by:

    1. Giovanni Dosi & Mauro Napoletano & Andrea Roventini & Joseph E. Stiglitz & Tania Treibich, 2020. "Rational Heuristics? Expectations And Behaviors In Evolving Economies With Heterogeneous Interacting Agents," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 58(3), pages 1487-1516, July.
    2. Giovanni Dosi & Maria Enrica Virgillito, 2016. "In order to stand up you must keep cycling: change and coordination in complex evolving economies," LEM Papers Series 2016/39, Laboratory of Economics and Management (LEM), Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies, Pisa, Italy.
    3. Giovanni Dosi, 2012. "Economic Coordination and Dynamics: Some Elements of an Alternative "Evolutionary" Paradigm," LEM Papers Series 2012/08, Laboratory of Economics and Management (LEM), Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies, Pisa, Italy.
    4. Giovanni Dosi & Marco Faillo & Virginia Cecchini Manara & Luigi Marengo & Daniele Moschella, 2017. "The formalization of organizational capabilities and learning: results and challenges," LEM Papers Series 2017/08, Laboratory of Economics and Management (LEM), Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies, Pisa, Italy.
    5. Giovanni Dosi & Marco Faillo & Luigi Marengo, 2018. "Beyond "Bounded Rationality": Behaviours and Learning in Complex Evolving Worlds," LEM Papers Series 2018/26, Laboratory of Economics and Management (LEM), Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies, Pisa, Italy.
    6. Giovanni Dosi & Marco Faillo & Luigi Marengo & Daniele Moschella, 2011. "Toward Formal Representations of Search Processes and Routines in Organizational Problem Solving. An Assessment of the State of the Art," LEM Papers Series 2011/04, Laboratory of Economics and Management (LEM), Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies, Pisa, Italy.

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