Organizations often fail to adequately respond to substantive changes in the environment, despite widespread implementation of algorithmic routines designed to enable dynamic adaptation. We develop a theory to explain this phenomenon based on an inductive, historical case study of the credit rating routine of Moody’s, an organization that failed to adapt to substantial changes in its environment leading up to the 2008 financial crisis. Our analysis of changes to the firm’s algorithmic credit rating routine reveals mechanisms whereby organizations dynamically produce inertia by taking actions that fail to produce significant change. Dynamic inertia occurs through bounded retheorization of the algorithmic model, sedimentation of assumptions about inputs to the algorithmic model, simulation of the unknown future, and specialized compartmentalization. We enable a better understanding of organizational inertia as a sociomaterial phenomenon by theorizing how—despite using algorithmic routines to improve organizational agility—organizations dynamically produce inertia, with potentially serious adverse consequences.
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This chapter considers how facets of occupations and professions manifest in routine dynamics. Whilst the salience of occupations and professions on routines has been recognized in extant research on routine dynamics, it remains largely scattered. To illuminate the salience of occupations and professions in the literature on routine dynamics, which is multifaceted, we focus on three prominent research themes: skillful accomplishment (i.e., how actors perform tasks), interdependence (i.e., how actors collaborate to accomplish tasks) and truces (i.e., how actors compete to make exclusive claims to perform certain activities). We turn to the literature on professions and occupations to draw out theoretical and empirical intersections with research advocating routine dynamics. The analytical framework, comprised of a becoming lens, a doing lens and a relating lens corresponds with and provides the basis to advance research themes within routine dynamics. We suggest a stronger emphasis on occupations and professions holds promise for deepening knowledge about routine dynamics, which we articulate by proposing several avenues for future research, including the expansion of the concept of routines and a distinction between organizational and professional routines. Keywords: routine dynamics, interdependence, skillful accomplishment, occupations, professions
Studies analyzing organizational routines in post-merger integration (PMI) studies at the micro level are almost nonexistent. To fill this research gap, the author performs a longitudinal exploratory case study of an admissions routine of an art college undergoing a merger with a larger university, drawing on advances in routine dynamics literature. The study enhances understanding of PMI challenges by depicting routines’ internal dynamics, their incompatibility, and the role of broader context in shaping their performances post-merger. The findings trace resistance to PMI to routine incompatibility caused by the simultaneous presence of multiple understandings (ostensive aspects) for integration, generated by the quest for efficiency-based synergies and continuity within the university post-merger, and for preservation, inherited from the pre-merger era and the routine embeddedness within the local context. The findings shed new light on the post-merger integration–preservation dilemma by illustrating how the interplay of routine participants’ agency and routine embeddedness within the organization and broader societal context constrains PMI, in spite of an intended full consolidation plan, as routine participants enact the routine in the emerging context.
Organizational actors spend a tremendous amount of time and energy trying to intentionally change their routines. We conceptualize these intentional changes as routine design—intentional efforts to change one or more aspects of a routine to create a preferred situation. We review existing routines research on intentional change by showing how different perspectives on routines have generated different insights about the relationship between intentional change and design. We highlight a cognitive perspective, a practice perspective, and an ontological process perspective on routine design. We then draw on two perspectives inspired by design studies. Simon’s scientific perspective on design suggests that routines scholars study the effects and implications of designing artifacts. Schön’s reflective practice perspective on design suggests that routines scholars can examine how actors set the problem, engage in (re)framing, and in reflection-in-action. These design studies perspectives offer routines scholars a better understanding of efforts to intentionally change routines. Based on these insights from design studies, we develop a future research agenda for routine design.
Algorithms are ubiquitous in modern organizations. Typically, researchers have viewed algorithms as self-contained computational tools that either magnify organizational capabilities or generate unintended negative consequences. To overcome this limited understanding of algorithms as stable entities, we propose two moves. The first entails building on a performative perspective to theorize algorithms as entangled, relational, emergent, and nested assemblages that use theories-and the sociomaterial networks they invoke-to automate decisions, enact roles and expertise, and perform calculations. The second move entails building on our dynamic perspective on algorithms to theorize how algorithms evolve as they move across contexts and over time. To this end, we introduce a biographical perspective on algorithms which traces their evolution by focusing on key "biographical moments." We conclude by discussing how our performativity-inspired biographical perspective on algorithms can help management and organization scholars better understand organizational decision-making, the spread of technologies and their logics, and the dynamics of practices and routines. 3
This chapter considers how facets of occupations and professions manifest in routine dynamics. Whilst the salience of occupations and professions on routines has been recognized in extant research on routine dynamics, it remains largely scattered. To illuminate the salience of occupations and professions in the literature on routine dynamics, which is multifaceted, we focus on three prominent research themes: skillful accomplishment (i.e., how actors perform tasks), interdependence (i.e., how actors collaborate to accomplish tasks) and truces (i.e., how actors compete to make exclusive claims to perform certain activities). We turn to the literature on professions and occupations to draw out theoretical and empirical intersections with research advocating routine dynamics. The analytical framework, comprised of a becoming lens, a doing lens and a relating lens corresponds with and provides the basis to advance research themes within routine dynamics. We suggest that a stronger emphasis on occupations and professions holds promise for deepening knowledge about routine dynamics, which we articulate by proposing several avenues for future research, including the expansion of the concept of routines and a distinction between organizational and professional routines.
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 ‘many’, and we conceptualize ‘the many’ as a space of possible paths encompassed by a process. We use the notion of paths to operationalize process multiplicity and make it accessible for empirical research. When we see process as a multiplicity, process change can be understood as expanding, shifting or contracting the space of possible paths. We suggest that this concept of process multiplicity also has implications for a range of other theoretical and practical topics, including standards, standardization and flexibility as well as process replication, management and resilience.
The fields of business process management and routine dynamics both investigate organizational processes. However, the lexicons, methods, and aims of these disciplines are very different from one another. In this chapter, we reflect on both disciplines to outline similarities and differences. We introduce the reader to the BPM life cycle and explain how computational techniques from business process management can be used to investigate organizational routines. We hope that this will be a first step in bringing both disciplines closer to one another.
I review the routine dynamics literature from a professional identity perspective. Little research has been carried out in this area, although important insights can be acquired from understanding the dynamics of routine enactment through routine participants' professional identities. I discuss how routines and routine participants' professional identities are mutually constitutive, meaning that change in one can lead to change in the other, and vice versa. I propose future research that can help us to better understand stability and change in routines, and what effect stability and change in routines can have on routine participants' professional identities.
[Prelimary abstract] The development of routine dynamics entails both a theoretical shift and changes in methodology. Agent-based modeling (ABM) offers an approach to enriching our understandings of routine dynamics from the ‘bottom-up’. This chapter provides an overview of ABM methodology in routine dynamics research. It includes a comparison of the eleven contemporary agent-based models (ABMs) selected from literature, a summary of research challenges and reflections on future work. As this chapter shows, we can differentiate ABMs in routine dynamics based on levels of analysis and concrete research questions. Further, developing empirically grounded ABMs will be a challenging but worthwhile effort. Attached is an author-draft version.
In this chapter, we review the literature on interdependent routines. We group previous studies on routine interdependence around key concepts-boundaries & intersections, clusters, ecologies, and bundles-and highlight the different analytical foci and results of each group. Hence, we make an argument for leveraging the analytical differences of such concepts as cluster and ecologies, rather than treating them as synonyms. In closing, we point out several avenues for future research.
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 researchers use sequence analysis in their research on routine dynamics. Hence, the chapter reviews prior literature that has used sequence analysis, it shows how to carry out sequence analysis and it provides implications as well as an agenda for future research.
In this chapter we focus on organizational routines for innovation work. We counter the view that routines and innovation are an unlikely couple. Emphasizing that innovation work is characterized by emergence, dispersed collaboration between heterogeneous actors, and novelty, we are beginning to see how mundane actions—as opposed to grand creative acts—and the interplay between routines and standard operating procedures are driving the development of innovations-in-the-making. We review empirical routine dynamic studies of innovation work to point out affordances of the routine dynamic lens and suggest new avenues for studying innovation work to contribute new theoretical insights about organizational routines.
Actor-network theory has always been an inspiring theoretical and methodological source for Routine Dynamics research. Seeing routines as networks of actants and as a consequence rather than a cause of collective action enabled scholars to move away from a priori assumptions about the world and shift their attention to situated performances, multiplicity, and connections-in action. In this chapter, I provide a brief historical account of actor-network theory highlighting some of its central authors and their work before unravelling how Routine Dynamics scholars have appropriated it—ironically, often as an undercover actor that remains invisible at first sight—and conclude by reflecting on how actor-network theory can continue to be of use for and shape Routine Dynamics research.
In this chapter we set out to analyze the rich and diverse stream which makes up the topic of routines as truces. This involves addressing not only those contributions which directly deal with the construct of truces and their dynamics, but also those for which truces might not be the central focus but which have contributed to our understanding of truce dynamics through the lens of related concepts. These topics include the influence of conflicting interests, goals and motivations; the emergence and resolution of tensions and struggles between and across organizational communities and culture(s); and the role of artifacts and materiality in addressing organizational conflict.
This chapter considers how the Routine Dynamics debate around technology, artifacts and materiality has evolved over the course of the past two decades. In reviewing the progress achieved so far, I show how the field is gearing up to address the important challenges posed by new forms of artifacts and technology, and new ways of organizing. In so doing, I discuss how the latest advances in routines and materiality (artifacts at the centre, performativity and multiplicity/fluid ontology) can help us address the theoretical, methodological and empirical challenges raised by contemporary material phenomena. I conclude by laying out an agenda for future studies of routines, technology, artifacts and materiality.
In this ethnographic study of firefighters we explore how routines are coordinated under high levels of temporal uncertainty-when the timing of critical events cannot be known in advance and temporal misalignment creates substantial risks. Such conditions render time-consuming incremental and situated forms of temporal structuring-the focus of previous research on temporal coordination-unfeasible. Our findings show that firefighters focused their efforts on enacting temporal autonomy or, as they called it, ''getting ahead of time.'' They gained temporal autonomy-the capacity to temporally uncouple from the unfolding situation to preserve the ability to adapt to autonomously selected events-by relying on rhythms they developed during training in performing individual routines and by opening up to the evolving situation only when transitioning between routines. Our study contributes to literature on temporal structuring by introducing temporal autonomy as a novel strategy for dealing with temporal contingencies. We also contribute to research on routine dynamics by introducing the performance of temporal boundaries as a previously unrecognized form of coordination within and among routines. Finally, we contribute to process research a method that allows analyzing complex temporal patterns and thus provides a novel way of visualizing processes.