Brian Pentland

Brian Pentland
Michigan State University | MSU · Department of Accounting and Information Systems

MIT PhD 1991

About

133
Publications
39,170
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12,216
Citations
Introduction
Evolution of organizational routines and capabilities; path dependence, interdependence and coordination in repetitive patterns of action. Singer/song writer (a.k.a. Doctor Decade: You name the Decade, I'll prescribe the Song).
Additional affiliations
September 1995 - present
Michigan State University

Publications

Publications (133)
Article
We offer a path-centric theory of emerging technology and organizing that addresses a basic question: when does emerging technology lead to transformative change? A path-centric perspective on technology focuses on the patterns of actions afforded by technology-in-use. We identify performing and patterning as self-reinforcing mechanisms that shape...
Chapter
Digital twins are becoming established tools for physical devices and systems. Their success has raised the promise and the “grand challenge” of digital twins of organizations. To the extent that organizations include networks of interdependent processes, human agency and conflict, and learning, we argue that building valid, reliable digital twins...
Chapter
Using data from the audit trail of an electronic medical record system, we examine the effects of a disruption on the clinical documentation process. We use process mining to construct a network that describes the process and then we use a latent factor selection model to analyze changes to that network. Rather than attempting to discover a particu...
Article
We use pattern mining tools from computer science to engage a classic problem in organizational theory: the relation between routinization and task performance. We develop and operationalize new measures of two key characteristics of organizational routines: repertoire and routinization. Repertoire refers to the number of recognizable patterns in a...
Article
Implicitly or explicitly, sequence analysis is at the heart of research on routine dynamics. Sequence analysis takes many forms in many different disciplines, because sequence is central to temporality, process, language, and narrative. In this chapter, we focus on sequence analysis in routine dynamics research. The goal of this chapter is to help...
Chapter
Full-text available
This chapter offers an introduction to Routine Dynamics as a particular approach to studying organizational phenomena. We provide a brief description of the genealogy of research on routines; starting with the work of the management scholar Fredrick Taylor (1911) and the pragmatist philosopher John Dewey (1922) at the beginning of the last century,...
Article
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The only constant in our world is change. Why is there not a field of science that explicitly studies continuous change? We propose the establishment of process science, a field that studies processes: coherent series of changes, both man-made and naturally occurring, that unfold over time and occur at various levels. Process science is concerned w...
Article
The growing availability of digital trace data has generated unprecedented opportunities for analyzing, explaining, and predicting the dynamics of process change. While research on process organization studies theorizes about process and change, and research on process mining rigorously measures and models business processes, there has so far been...
Chapter
Current theory in routine dynamics focuses on patterning (Feldman 2016) as a mechanism for stability and change in routines. We define patterning as the process of adding, removing, or reinforcing paths in the narrative network that describes an organizational routine. Patterning is a hybrid mechanism that can be driven by any of the four change mo...
Chapter
Using a routine dynamics perspective, the authors address a central question in a practice-driven institutional theory: where does change come from? In particular, the authors focus on the possibility that small variations in routines can accumulate into big changes in institutions. The analysis is limited strictly to endogenous change. The authors...
Chapter
Full-text available
This chapter offers an introduction to Routine Dynamics as a particular approach to studying organizational phenomena. We provide a brief description of the genealogy of research on routines; starting with the work of the management scholar Fredrick Taylor (1911) and the pragmatist philosopher John Dewey (1922) at the beginning of the last century,...
Article
Autonomous vehicles are an emerging technology that can fundamentally change how our society moves and lives. We review the infant literature of 185 peer-reviewed articles on the social context of an AV-enabled mobility future. We develop a taxonomy based on sociomobility that illustrates how AVs reinforce the status-quo in our society as AV-mobili...
Preprint
Full-text available
We examine why trust change occurs when potential users first encounter news about a specific technology. We propose personal perceptions and three cognitive outcomes-attention, sensemak-ing, and threshold-affect trust change in educated young adults 10 surveyed regarding a technology product. We find the outcomes of attention, sensemaking, and thr...
Article
Full-text available
In research on process organization studies, the concept of multiplicity is widely used, but a fundamental confusion about what process multiplicity means persists. As a result, we miss some of the potential of this concept for understanding process dynamics and process change. In this paper, we define process multiplicity as a duality of ‘one’ and...
Chapter
Full-text available
Implicitly or explicitly, sequence analysis is at the heart of research on routine dynamics. Sequence analysis takes many forms in many different disciplines, because sequence is central to temporality, process, language, and narrative. In this chapter, we focus on sequence analysis in routine dynamics research. The goal of this chapter is to help...
Article
Full-text available
The world is blazing with change and digital innovation is fueling the fire. Process management can help channel the heat into useful work. Unfortunately, research on digital innovation and process management has been conducted by separate communities operating under orthogonal assumptions. We argue that a synthesis of assumptions is required to br...
Article
Full-text available
Context is usually conceptualized as "external" to a theory or model and treated as something to be controlled or eliminated in empirical research. We depart from this tradition and conceptualize context as permeating processual phenomena. This move is possible because digital trace data is now increasingly available, providing rich and fine-graine...
Article
This paper uses a simulation to build new theory about complexity and phase change in processes that are supported by digital technologies. We know that digitized processes can drift (change incrementally over time). We simulate this phenomenon by incrementally adding and removing edges from a network that represents the process. The simulation dem...
Article
Full-text available
This paper demonstrates a new way of seeing and theorizing about the dynamics of organizational routines through the concept of paths – time-ordered sequences of actions or events in performing work. Empirically and conceptually, paths provide the missing link between specific actions and patterns of action. When routines are represented as a narra...
Chapter
Business process mining algorithms discover processes from event logs that record sequences of events or actions. Typical event logs may or may not contain information about the attributes of the actions, such as the particular workstations used to carry out an action or the identity of the person performing the action. In this paper, we test the e...
Chapter
Full-text available
In this essay we examine interdependence within and between routines by focusing on an aspect of routines that has often been taken for granted: boundaries. Logically, boundaries are needed to individuate and separate the entities that are being related or compared. Using observations of passenger service on a transAtlantic flight, we demonstrate t...
Conference Paper
To develop new theory about the dynamics of enacted ask complexity, we analyze 15-months of field data from a video game development project consisting of observations, interviews, and an archival analysis of 2,428 tasks to present a novel way of conceptualizing and visualizing the complexity of emergent processual phenomena.
Article
Widespread digitization is creating new sources of data that record sequences of actions and events. These action sequences can be used to trace coherent streams of activity in social, economic and business processes. These sources of data, along with new computational methods, create an opportunity to visualize, analyze and compare patterns of act...
Conference Paper
In this manuscript, we develop the Networks of Routines (NoR) perspective. Taking a NoR perspective implies that one strives to reconstruct large social phenomena – such as 2-sided platforms – as networks of routines and focuses on the interdependencies within and between these routines in order to analyze their dynamic development over time. A cen...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
In theory and in practice, processes and routines are often treated as independent entities. Recent field research has begun to suggest ways that routines are interdependent, and information systems have been identified as a key aspect of the phenomenon. However, we are lacking good ways to conceptualize and measure this important construct. In thi...
Article
Full-text available
While handoffs are usually defined as a transfer of something between people or things, we define handoffs as a relationship of similarity and difference between activities or events. By using the narrative network to operationalize this relational perspective, we discover a wider and more meaningful spectrum of handoffs and make it available for a...
Conference Paper
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Interdependence is a central concept in systems and organizations, yet our methods for measuring it are not well developed. Here, we report on a novel method for transforming digital trace data into networks of events that can be used to visualize and measure interdependence. The edges in the network represent sequential flow and the vertices repre...
Article
In recent years, organizational routines have been studied in a wide variety of settings, including law, medicine, accounting, and engineering. This fieldwork has led to a broader understanding of organizational routines as repetitive, recognizable patterns of interdependent action, carried out by multiple actors. Routines are seen as practices tha...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
We report on a simple method for detecting changes in repetitive patterns of action. The method involves computing the correlation of action networks before and after a focal date that is moved through an event log that represents the history of a process. Unlike process mining methods that focus on identifying an accurate model of a process at one...
Article
This study addresses how individuals combine their diverse skills during the process of forming organizational routines. Our explanation centers on the development of transactive memory, which forms during the initial performances of a routine, as actors search for (and subsequently remember) other actors with the capabilities needed to complete a...
Article
This article re-examines the assumptions of current theory to update and extend the concept of task complexity to tasks that include multiple actors at any level of analysis. Tasks can be modeled as networks of required actions and information cues carried out or processed by particular actors. Counting pathways in the task network provides an inde...
Article
Full-text available
Existing trust research typically uses a variance theory approach and studies trust over one or perhaps two time periods. By contrast, this article uses a process theory approach and addresses how trust changes over a longer period of time. We introduce a social psychology-based Information Processing Model (IPM) that explains how events may or may...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Existing trust research typically uses a variance theory approach and studies trust over one or perhaps two time periods. By contrast, this article uses a process theory approach and addresses how trust changes over a longer period of time. We introduce a social psychology-based Information Processing Model (IPM) that explains how events may or may...
Article
Research grounded in a social science tradition tends to focus on people, while research grounded in an engineering tradition tends to focus on artifacts. However, as people and artifacts become increasingly intertwined in digitized processes and practices, these traditional disciplinary divisions sometimes seem a little outdated. So in this essay,...
Article
Research grounded in a social science tradition tends to focus on people, while research grounded in an engineering tradition tends to focus on artifacts. However, as people and artifacts become increasingly intertwined in digitized processes and practices, these traditional disciplinary divisions sometimes seem a little outdated. So in this essay,...
Article
This paper introduces a generative model of organizational routines and their change over time. The model demonstrates that variation and selective retention of patterns of action are necessary and sufficient to explain the features of organizational routines that are most relevant in relation to dynamic capabilities, such as formation, inertia, en...
Chapter
This chapter offers an approach to materiality that is grounded in pragmatism, a philosophical perspective that emphasizes context and consequences, rather than intrinsic properties. The chapter draws inspiration from the concept of materiality as it is used, in practice, by financial and information systems auditors. The argument entails a reversa...
Article
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CALL FOR PAPERS The increasingly uncertain and fast-changing environments in which today's organizations operate call for a shift of attention from organizations-and organizational practices or routines-as fixed entities to the study of the distributed (Hutchins 1995) and situated (Suchman 1987, Lave 1988) dynamics by which they emerge and are cons...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
This article addresses how trust changes over time. We introduce a social psychology-based Information Processing Model (IPM) that explains how trust changes over time based on three cognitive mechanisms: attention, attribution, and judgment. This model is contrasted with the traditional incremental progression model of trust change. We also explai...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Two forms of variety have been noted in organizational processes: sequential and configural. These describe variations in how a work process is ordered (sequential) or what is involved in enacting each work activity (configural). Each has been mainly studied in isolation. In organizations, these two types of variety are always co-present and schola...
Article
Business process management systems have demonstrated benefits at the process level, but evidence of firm level effects is inconclusive. We argue that as BPMS utilization grows, its use could become more routinized. Routinization tends to minimize search and can lead to competency traps. Furthermore, as more processes are managed within a BPMS fram...
Article
This paper uses data on invoice processing in four organizations to distinguish empirically between two competing theories of organizational routines. One theory predicts that routines should generate patterns of action that are few in number and stable over time, and that atypical patterns of action are driven primarily by exceptional inputs. The...
Article
This paper offers an alternative to the view of the routines literature provided by T. Felin and N. J. Foss, ‘The Endogenous Origins of Experience, Routines and Organizational Capabilities: The Poverty of Stimulus’, published by the Journal of Institutional Economics. The emphasis here is on practice-based theories of organizational routines that a...
Conference Paper
In this paper, we use a computer simulation to explore the effects of dynamic capabilities on the evolution of business processes. Dynamic capability is conceptualized as variation and selective retention (Campbell, 1965; Bickhard and Campbell, 2003) which governs the development and adaptation of business process. The model demonstrates that varia...
Article
Full-text available
This paper uses data on invoice processing in four organizations to distinguish empirically between two competing theories of organizational routines. One theory predicts that routines should generate patterns of action that are few in number and stable over time, and that atypical patterns of action are driven primarily by exceptional inputs. The...
Article
This paper demonstrates that patterns of action are a fruitful basis for an empirical science of organizational routines by analyzing data from the invoice processing routines in four Norwegian organizations. Invoice processing is a highly institutionalized activity, governed by accounting rules and subject to audit. These four organizations use th...
Article
Interpreting texts is central to information systems practice and research. The entire process of developing and using information systems involves interpretation, from the earliest statements of functional requirements, through the testing of prototypes, to the engagement with a completed system. Here, we present a framework for locating six techn...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
In this paper, we will use this textual fragment from an interview to demonstrate a set of approaches that allow us to critique the initial reading of events. In doing so, we come to a deeper view of the development process. We will see interpretations of the project from a variety of perspectives and in the process shed light on the conundrum of s...
Article
In this essay, we take a fresh look at the IS academic community’s enduring concern with the management implications of its research. We examine in particular what we call the “variables-centered” research paradigm, which focuses its attention on co-variance among independent and dependent variables. As the predominant research tradition in the fie...
Article
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Coordination - commonly defined as the achievement of concerted action - has been a phenomenon of central concern to organizational theorizing since the 1920s. Until the 1980s, information processing and contingency theorists have shaped coordination theory around the relationship between coordination mechanisms and drivers like task dependence, un...
Conference Paper
Since the emergence of the Theory of Scientific Management, a key dimension against which business processes have been judged is by their repeatability, consistency and efficiency. Transformational “manufacturing” processes have been designed with emphasis on controlling both the process in action (sequence), and the outcome (product). Conventional...
Article
Empirical studies of organizational routines are often limited because performances are distributed in time and space, and therefore difficult to observe. Workflow management systems provide an opportunity to collect data about a large number of complete performances at relatively low cost. In this paper, we analyze data from a workflow management...
Article
The space of design alternatives for a business process is typically very large, with technology, location, and other factors combining to generate seemingly endless possibilities. This paper introduces a set of artifacts that support process designers in their efforts to manage this critical business problem: (1) a grammar-based method to generate...
Article
Using the example of a failed software implementation, we discuss the role of artifacts in shaping organizational routines. We argue that artifact-centered assumptions about design are not well suited to designing organizational routines, which are generative systems that produce recognizable, repetitive patterns of interdependent actions, carried...
Article
Routine dynamics Recently there has been increased interest in organizational routines and particularly how organizational routines relate to organizational change and stability. 2 Two emerging perspectives relate organizational routines and organizational change. We refer to these as routine dynamics and dynamic capabilities respectively. We explo...
Article
Full-text available
This paper introduces the narrative network as a device for representing patterns of technology-in-use. The narrative network offers a novel conceptual vocabulary for the description of information and communication technologies (ICTs) and their relationship to organizational forms. The narrative network is a constructive synthesis of concepts from...
Book
Full-text available
This book covers the relationship between information and communication technologies (ICTs) and communities – both physical and virtual. The chapters deal with such subjects as online social network communities, implicit online communities, tools for researching communities, user generated content communities, communities of practice, and trust in...
Article
Thesis (Ph. D.)--Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Sloan School of Management, 1991. Includes bibliographical references (leaves 231-240). by Brian T. Pentland. Ph.D.
Article
Full-text available
Organizational routines can be conceptualized as generative systems with internal structures and dynamics. In this paper, we propose three different ways that organizational routines can be approached as a unit of analysis. One option is to treat the entire routine as an undifferentiated 'black box'. A second option is to study particular parts of...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
This paper argues that the adoption of "net" technology by "net-enabled" firms can be viewed as a population or network level phenomenon, rather than a firm level phenomenon. Using organizational ecology as a starting point, this paper outlines a framework for studying the ecology of inter- organizational routines. The paper defines key concepts an...
Article
The Virtual Commerce (VCommerce) simulation environment has been developed to improve technical skills of students and help them to gather information about marketing, business strategy, and management. VCommerce provides a framework for students within which they can develop Internet-based businesses. The environment is designed to be used in inte...
Article
Full-text available
This paper introduces the concept of sequential variety as a way to measure variability in the sequence of steps used to perform a work process. There is reason to expect that such variability may influence a range of outcomes, such as flexibility and quality. Two alternative ways to operationalize sequential variety are demonstrated and compared t...