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A performative perspective on stability and change in organizational routines

Listed author(s):
  • Martha S. Feldman
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    This paper is about stability in organizational routines. It proposes a new explanation of stability, based on mindfulness rather than mindlessness. Traditional explanations of stability (or lack of change) in organizational routines suggest that organizational participants are not thinking about what they are doing, but repeating actions that they have taken in the past. In this paper I suggest that stability can also occur because organizational participants are making conscious efforts to understand what actions make sense in the context in which the work is being performed. The argument is that organizational participants use what they understand about how the organization operates to guide their performances within the routine. Relevant performances, such as the performances of supervisors, are integral to what people understand about how the organization operates. Organizational members use these understandings in choosing whether to enact the requested change. In so doing, they create and recreate the understandings about how the organization operates. This explanation is similar to performative explanations of change in organizational routines, though these explanations have focused on the effect of doing the routine on the production and reproduction of the routine rather than the production and reproduction of understandings about how the organization operates. Copyright 2003, Oxford University Press.

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

    Volume (Year): 12 (2003)
    Issue (Month): 4 (August)
    Pages: 727-752

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    Handle: RePEc:oup:indcch:v:12:y:2003:i:4:p:727-752
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