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 4: Using Workflow Data to Explore the Structure of an Organizational Routine

Brian T. Pentland, Thorvald Haerem and Derek W. Hillison


4. Using workflow data to explore the structure of an organizational routine Brian T. Pentland, Thorvald Haerem and Derek W. Hillison INTRODUCTION Empirical study of organizational routines poses many difficulties for the researcher. Routines are typically distributed in time, space and throughout an organization’s structure. Short of ‘stapling yourself to the paperwork’, it is difficult to observe even a single performance of an organizational routine from beginning to end. In addition, the natural variability in performances can make it difficult to identify a single representative pattern. Time, money and patience often limit us to observations of a few performances, or parts of performances or interviews with a subset of participants. Workflow systems provide an unprecedented opportunity to gather data about the patterns of action generated by routines (van der Aalst et al., 2003). With the proliferation of computer network technology, more and more organizations have adopted workflow systems to support their routines (Basu and Kumar, 2002). These systems typically involve a mixture of human and automatic processing – they are like the ‘glue’ that holds together other, more common applications (Becker et al., 2002). Typical workflow systems generate ‘event logs’ that include time-stamped records of each event or action that occurs in the system, making it possible to collect large numbers of performances at very low cost. Computer scientists have made tremendous progress in analysing event logs for a range of purposes, such as the recovery of formal process models (van der Aalst et...

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