Handbook of Organizational Routines
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Handbook of Organizational Routines

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.
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Chapter 2: The Concept of a Routine

Geoffrey M. Hodgson


Geoffrey M. Hodgson The significance of routines in modern, learning, innovating economies is widely appreciated.1 Routines are vital to all organizations. Hence it is important to understand both how they can be built and how they can be changed. Such an appreciation is important, for analyzing how the business world works, for understanding how knowledge is retained and transferred, for the development of business strategy, and for the creation of policies to encourage more beneficial business practices. Detailed empirical investigation is essential in this regard, but detailed taxonomic studies based on empirical evidence are relatively rare. One reason why empirical investigations have so far remained rather limited is that the conceptual specification of a routine remains hazy. Greater conceptual precision is a vital precondition of fruitful empirical enquiry. The aim of this chapter is to help refine and define the concept of the routine, by citing relevant insights from philosophy, social theory and psychology, and by focusing on some milestone contributions in this area. The chapter is divided into four sections. The first section addresses the analogous and component concept of habit, with a view to making a distinction between habits and routines. The second section explores the metaphor of ‘routines as genes’ and argues that routines must be treated as capacities or dispositions, rather than behaviours. The third section considers the mechanics of routine persistence and replication in more detail, by briefly discussing some important theoretical and empirical studies in the area....

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