Handbook of Organizational Routines

Handbook of Organizational Routines

Elgar original reference

Edited by Markus C. Becker

This cutting-edge, multidisciplinary Handbook comprises specially commissioned contributions surveying state-of-the-art research on the concept of organizational routines. An authoritative overview of the concept of organizational routines and its contributions to our understanding of organizations is presented. To identify those contributions, the role of organizational routines in such processes as organizational learning, performance feedback, and organizational memory is discussed. To identify how the concept can contribute to different disciplinary fields, the expert authors review applications across a range of fields including political science, sociology, and accounting.

Chapter 1: The Past, Present and Future of Organizational Routines: Introduction to the Handbook of Organizational Routines

Markus C. Becker

Subjects: business and management, organisation studies, economics and finance, evolutionary economics, industrial organisation


Markus C. Becker To understand routines is to understand organizations.1 Routines are ubiquitous in organizations, and an integral part of organizations. One is hard put to identify an organization where no routines are present. A large part of the tasks carried out in organizations, such as manufacturing, marketing and selling goods and services, are accomplished in routinized ways. This is not only true for trivial operations, such as manufacturing, but also pervades processes such as decision making, strategizing or even change and innovation. Organizational routines are the building blocks of organizations: they capture the typical ways in which organizations accomplish their tasks. As it turns out, understanding organizational routines is not a trivial undertaking. So far, just getting an overview of the concept of organizational routines and what we know about organizational routines was quite difficult. For one, no obvious point of reference was available, the 1996 Industrial and Corporate Change article documenting the discussion of the Santa Fe group perhaps being the only exception (Cohen et al., 1996). The Handbook of Organizational Routines addresses this gap. In this introduction, I will not attempt to describe comprehensively the present state of the research on organizational routines. As James March (1965: ix) so eloquently put it, ‘no editor, and least of all a sympathetic one, should attempt to summarize that state. It is what it is; and what it is can best be discovered by reading the detailed chapters’. Rather, I want to use the occasion to sketch an overarching...