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The void at the heart of rules: routines in the context of rule-following. The case of the Paris Metro Workshop


  • Bénédicte Reynaud


This paper is an attempt to understand how rules operate in organizations. I focus on the links between organizational routines and rules that are incomplete in their application. I analyse the role of routines in managing the incompleteness of rules. I present a case study where management introduced a productivity bonus in the middle of 1992. This allows for the study of the extent to which the new rule modifies the prevailing routines of work organization. Based on team observations, interviews and statistics that I carried out over a period of nine years (1992--2000), I show that in an initial period, the productivity bonus has partially biased the task selection process. In a second period--'the normal period'--our observations indicate that following the rules consists in translating the abstract rules into concrete reference points, and adding in what the rules have not specified. The translation process conducts to a routine since the interpretation is stabilized. Routines provide a pragmatic, local and temporary solution to the incompleteness of rules. Since routines emerge only in the course of action, they come with no guarantee of success. That constitutes their dynamic. Copyright 2005, Oxford University Press.

Suggested Citation

  • Bénédicte Reynaud, 2005. "The void at the heart of rules: routines in the context of rule-following. The case of the Paris Metro Workshop," Industrial and Corporate Change, Oxford University Press, vol. 14(5), pages 847-871, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:indcch:v:14:y:2005:i:5:p:847-871

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    Cited by:

    1. 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.
    2. Pertusa-Ortega, Eva M. & Zaragoza-Sáez, Patrocinio & Claver-Cortés, Enrique, 2010. "Can formalization, complexity, and centralization influence knowledge performance?," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 63(3), pages 310-320, March.
    3. Rodney Coyte & David Emsley & David Boyd, 2010. "Examining Management Accounting Change as Rules and Routines: The Effect of Rule Precision," Australian Accounting Review, CPA Australia, vol. 20(2), pages 96-109, June.
    4. Claver-Cortés, Enrique & Pertusa-Ortega, Eva M. & Molina-Azorín, José F., 2012. "Characteristics of organizational structure relating to hybrid competitive strategy: Implications for performance," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 65(7), pages 993-1002.
    5. Julie Bertz & Martin Quinn, 2014. "Interpreting management accounting rules: an initial study of public bodies," Metrika: International Journal for Theoretical and Applied Statistics, Springer, vol. 24(4), pages 319-342, February.
    6. Marie CORIS (GREThA), 2008. "The coordination issues of relocations: How proximity still matters in location of software development activities\r\n," Cahiers du GREThA 2008-03, Groupe de Recherche en Economie Théorique et Appliquée.
    7. Philip Stiles & Jonathan Trevor & Elaine Farndale & Shad S. Morris & Jaap Paauwe & Guenter Stahl & Patrick Wright, 2015. "Changing Routine: Reframing Performance Management within a Multinational," Journal of Management Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 52(1), pages 63-88, January.
    8. repec:oup:indcch:v:26:y:2017:i:4:p:727-743. is not listed on IDEAS

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