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Edited by Markus C. Becker
Chapter 7: Organizational Routines in Evolutionary Theory
7 Organizational routines in evolutionary theory1 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...
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