Organizational Routines

Organizational Routines

Advancing Empirical Research

Edited by Markus C. Becker and Nathalie Lazaric

This book showcases advanced empirical research that applies the concept of organizational routines to understanding organizations and how they change and evolve.

Chapter 2: Routines as Technologies and as Organizational Capabilities

Richard R. Nelson

Subjects: business and management, knowledge management, organisation studies, research methods in business and management, economics and finance, evolutionary economics, innovation and technology, knowledge management, research methods, research methods in business and management


Richard R. Nelson INTRODUCTION The focal theme of the conference at which the chapters in this volume were first presented was on the relationship between the behavioral and cognitive aspects of routines. I interpret the cognitive aspects as being about understanding how and why a routine works as it does, as contrasted with the know-how that is required simply to ‘do it’, that is the behavioral knowledge base. Also, I would argue that the former – the understanding – tends to be articulated to a considerable extent, while the latter – the ability to do – can be largely tacit. The theme of this chapter is that the importance, and the power, of the understanding bearing on routines varies greatly across different kinds of routines. The differences matter profoundly in terms of how different routines, or aspects of routines, evolve. Let me begin my discussion by reminding you that in our book Winter and I (1982) highlighted two different aspects of a ‘routine’. From one point of view, a routine is a ‘technology’. By that we did not mean that it necessarily involved fancy equipment or materials, but rather that it was a productive technique for doing something, as a program, or a recipe (including the steps that transform the inputs into the intended output), that could be described without specifying any particular way the actions required by the technique were to be assigned to particular individuals and groups, and coordinated. Many ‘technologies’, for example the way teachers try to...

You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.

Elgaronline requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals. Please login through your library system or with your personal username and password on the homepage.

Non-subscribers can freely search the site, view abstracts/ extracts and download selected front matter and introductory chapters for personal use.

Your library may not have purchased all subject areas. If you are authenticated and think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

Further information