Chapter 11: The Difficult Creation of Novel Routines: Persistence of Old Habits and Renewal of Knowledge Base in French SMEs
11. The diﬃcult creation of novel routines: persistence of old habits and renewal of knowledge base in French SMEs Frédéric Huet and Nathalie Lazaric 1. INTRODUCTION The relation between institutions and individual behaviour has been widely debated in the old American institutionalism, according to which collective learning rests on individual habits, routines and other types of more or less formalized practices (Commons, 1934; Veblen, 1914). New interest in the notion of routine has recently arisen, particularly following Nelson and Winter’s work (1982), which highlighted the relative permanency of ﬁrms’ behaviours but also their capacity to innovate. Using a Schumpeterian framework, these authors free themselves from the traditional institutional framework and consider that processes of routine selection respond essentially to external regularities. Yet, a careful re-examination of the concepts of habits and routines shows the likeness of both notions, in terms of their properties and of their ability to integrate changes (Hodgson, 1993; Lazaric, 2000; Lorenz, 2000). The notion of routine is increasingly used to analyse microeconomic change (Feldman, 2000, 2004; Pentland and Feldman, 2005; Becker et al., 2005). In this respect, a re-examination of institutions’ role would enable us to better identify and understand the forces behind these changes, which are not exclusively related to cognitive contingencies (Nelson, 1994; Nelson and Sampat, 2001). The persistence of old habits and the diﬃculty of creating novel routines notably through cooperation gives us the opportunity to examine the organizational and institutional dynamics from an evolutionary perspective. Pioneering eﬀorts...
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