Organizational Routine and Coordinated Imitation

Shumpei IWAO
October 2015
Annals of Business Administrative Science;2015, Vol. 14 Issue 5, p279
Academic Journal
The technical term "organizational routine" has been broadly used in management and organizational science. The study by Nelson and Winter (1982) is considered to be the origin of this terminology. However, Nelson and Winter (1982) were not management scientists, but they were evolutionary economists. Researchers in both evolutionary economics and management science used organizational routine as a unit of analysis, but three major conceptual differences exist with the definition of organizational routine used in management science. For example, Nelson and Winter (1982) explain that (a) each company has an organizational routine; (b) organizational routines change through natural selection after random mutation; and (c) the organizational routines of one organization can be easily transplanted to other organizations. However, observation of actual firms from management science perspective reveals that (a) each company has many organizational routines that combine in a mosaic-like fashion; (b) the creation, imitation, and selection of organizational routines are intentional; and (c) transplanting an organizational routine is difficult due to needs for coordination. These points are clear from a review of the literature on these topics called as "routine dynamics." In recent years, scholars have regarded routine dynamics as a new framework for the theory of organizational routine. However, routine dynamics tends to focus less on the need for the coordination mentioned in (c). This study employs a case study of the failure of Company A--an automaker--to implement Toyota's production methods and to indicate that future analysis for changes in organizational routines must be considered from the perspective of coordination.


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