Transactions of the Academic Association for Organizational Science
Online ISSN : 2186-8530
ISSN-L : 2186-8530
The Past, Present, and Future of Research on Organizational Routines
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2021 Volume 10 Issue 2 Pages 49-55


The aim of this paper is to question the significance of conducting research on organizational routines from the perspective of critical realism. Organizational routines have been conceptualized using a variety of definitions as analytical units for researchers to explain the behavior of business firms. However, since 2000, they have been defined as a duality of patterns and actions influenced by structuration theory, and research on routine dynamics has been developed to capture the stability and change of routines in practice. Presently, researchers are drawn to the analytical framework called “narrative networks,” which describes these dynamics based on sociological narrative methodology and flat ontology. Thus, while organizational routines have been elaborated as a descriptive model, the reasons for describing the routines have not necessarily been clarified. To bridge this gap in the literature, in this paper, I discuss this issue based on critical realism and argue that by describing the routines, researchers can objectify the tendencies that constitute the routineness of routines, and analyze those tendencies critically as well as create new practices and routines. This suggests that the narrative approach has potential as a pragmatic methodology and not just as a descriptive model.

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