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Organizational routines as a unit of analysis


  • Brian T. Pentland
  • Martha S. Feldman


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.

Suggested Citation

  • Brian T. Pentland & Martha S. Feldman, 2005. "Organizational routines as a unit of analysis," Industrial and Corporate Change, Oxford University Press, vol. 14(5), pages 793-815, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:indcch:v:14:y:2005:i:5:p:793-815

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