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 7: Organizational Routines in Evolutionary Theory

Thorbjørn Knudsen

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


1 Thorbjørn Knudsen 1 Introduction Habits and routines are basic elements of evolutionary theories of cultural and economic change in most of the disciplines and fields within and bordering the social sciences, including cultural studies, economics, sociology, psychology, organization studies, and management. It is important to understand why this is the case. Accordingly, the present chapter aims to consider why the nature and function of individual habits and organizational routines render them basic elements of evolutionary theory in the social sciences. A review of a very broad empirical literature identifies three essential features that are common to all kinds of habits and routines in social populations.2 Habits and routines are persistent, they multiply, and they contain ready-made solutions to frequently occurring problems.3 It is these three features of habits and routines that account for their role in evolutionary theory. Evolutionary theory is useful in providing a causal explanation of an observed history, such as the origins, change and character of firms, markets and other economic organizations. Even though the content of particular evolutionary theories of cultural and economic change is very different, there is a shared overlap (Aldrich, 1999; Hodgson and Knudsen, 2005a; Winter, 1987). All of these theories include three core principles: variation, selection and information transfer (inheritance). Indeed, these three core Darwinian principles appear to be common to all selection processes. Only recently, a generalized concept of selection has emerged to complement variation and information transfer as a general principle of evolution. This generalized concept...

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