Organizational Routines
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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.
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Chapter 6: The Inheritance of Organizational Routines and the Emergence of a Firm Genealogy in the Fashion Design Industry

Rik Wenting


6. The inheritance of organizational routines and the emergence of a firm genealogy in the fashion design industry Rik Wenting INTRODUCTION 1. Evolutionary economics starts from the proposition that heterogeneity in firm behaviour can be explained by organizational routines and their rather rigid nature to resist change unless changing conditions require it (Nelson and Winter, 1982; Hodgson and Knudsen, 2004). Routines are repetitive and collective in nature, and are to firms what habitual skills are to individuals. Organizational routines can be defined as recurrent activity patterns which are collective in nature and specific to the firm (Becker, 2004). Individual employees act in unison to perform routinized tasks that constitute the organization’s competitive edge. It is in this way that routines act as objects of selection in evolutionary models of industry dynamics (Klepper, 2002). Routines cannot be captured by codification alone and, similar to individual skills, consist of tacit and experience knowledge components (learning-by-doing). These aspects of routines render them difficult to imitate by other firms (Teece et al., 1997). However, routine replication does take place between firms. In light of incentives to imitate ‘best practices’ in the industry, the rigidity and ambiguity of routines stem the replication and diffusion of routines. Within the organizational boundary, routines are more freely exchanged, as employees engage in day-to-day practice. Despite the proposition that routines are specific to the firm, the evolutionary literature does offer mechanisms that allow for the transfer of (parts of) organizational routines between...

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