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Are Routines Reducible or Mere Cognitive Automatisms? Some contributions from cognitive science to help shed light on change in routines

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  • Nathalie Lazaric

Abstract

The aim of this article is to understand permanence and changes inside organizational routines. For this purpose, it seems important to explain how individual and collective memorisation occurs, so as to grasp how knowledge can be converted into routines. Although memorisation mechanisms imply a degree of durability, our procedural and declarative knowledge, and our memorisation processes, evolve so that individuals and organisations can project themselves into the future and innovate. Some authors highlight the necessity of dreaming and forgetting (Bergson 1896); others believe that emotions play a role in our memorisation processes (Damasio 1994). These dimensions are not only important at the individual level but also in an organisational context (Lazaric and Denis 2005; Reynaud 2005; Pentland and Feldman 2005).I review the individual dimension of these memorisation processes, with the Anderson’s distinction between procedural knowledge and declarative knowledge. I discuss the notion of cognitive automatisms in order to show why routines should be investigated beyond their first literal assumption (Bargh, 1997). This leads to a clear understanding of the micro level that underpins organisational flexibility and adaptation (notably the motivational triggers). Within organisations, the memorisation mechanisms are at once similar and diverse. Indeed, organisations use their own filters and mechanisms to generate organisational coordination. Organizational memory has its own dimension as it does not merely consist of the sum of individual knowledge and must be able to survive when individuals leave. Routines depend on the organisational memory implemented and on the procedural knowledge and representations of it (individual and collective representations).

Suggested Citation

  • Nathalie Lazaric, 2007. "Are Routines Reducible or Mere Cognitive Automatisms? Some contributions from cognitive science to help shed light on change in routines," DRUID Working Papers 07-13, DRUID, Copenhagen Business School, Department of Industrial Economics and Strategy/Aalborg University, Department of Business Studies.
  • Handle: RePEc:aal:abbswp:07-13
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Peter Abell & Teppo Felin & Nicolai Foss, 2008. "Building micro-foundations for the routines, capabilities, and performance links," Managerial and Decision Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 29(6), pages 489-502.
    2. Bénédicte Reynaud, 2005. "The void at the heart of rules: Routines in the context of rule-following," PSE Working Papers halshs-00590855, HAL.
    3. Cohen, Michael D, et al, 1996. "Routines and Other Recurring Action Patterns of Organizations: Contemporary Research Issues," Industrial and Corporate Change, Oxford University Press, vol. 5(3), pages 653-698.
    4. Kyriakos Kyriakopoulos & Ko de Ruyter, 2004. "Knowledge Stocks and Information Flows in New Product Development," Journal of Management Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 41(8), pages 1469-1498, December.
    5. Massimo Paoli & Andrea Prencipe, 2003. "Memory of the Organisation and Memories within the Organisation," Journal of Management & Governance, Springer;Accademia Italiana di Economia Aziendale (AIDEA), vol. 7(2), pages 145-162, June.
    6. Karl E. Weick & Kathleen M. Sutcliffe, 2006. "Mindfulness and the Quality of Organizational Attention," Organization Science, INFORMS, vol. 17(4), pages 514-524, August.
    7. Nathalie Lazaric, 2000. "The role of routines, rules and habits in collective learning: some epistemological and ontological considerations," Post-Print hal-00457133, HAL.
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    Cited by:

    1. Maréchal, Kevin, 2010. "Not irrational but habitual: The importance of "behavioural lock-in" in energy consumption," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 69(5), pages 1104-1114, March.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Knowledge; memorisation; organizations; individuals;

    JEL classification:

    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness
    • O31 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Innovation and Invention: Processes and Incentives

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