36th EGOS Colloquium
Organizing for a Sustainable Future:
Responsibility, Renewal & Resistance
University of Hamburg
July 2–4, 2020
36th EGOS Colloquium
July 2–4, 2020
Over the past 20 years, organizational routines have increasingly been studied as emergent and generative processes (i.e.,
coming into being only through specific performances). Building on Feldman and Pentland’s (2003) work, scholars have traced
the co-constituting parts of routines, namely their performative and ostensive aspects, to understand how routines are reproduced
and changed as people enact them. Recent routine dynamic research has showed how people performing routines balance conflicting
goals (Salvato & Rerup, 2018) and organize time (Turner & Rindova, 2018), how talk and reflections impact the way
routines are performed (Bucher & Langley, 2016; Dittrich et al., 2016), and how routines are important drivers of creativity
and innovation (Deken et al., 2016; Sele & Grand, 2016; Sonenshein, 2016). Clearly, routines are no longer seen as “things”
or a source of inertia, but as dynamic and consequential in nature (Feldman et al., 2016).
Understanding/conceptualizing routines as practices has not only drawn our attention to the performativity/generativity of seemingly mundane action patterns, but has helped us to see how everyday actions influence large phenomena such as strategies (Kaplan & Orlikowski, 2013), schemata (Rerup & Feldman, 2011), or healthcare provision (Nicolini, 2010). Moreover, the study of practices has increasingly demonstrated that what happens on a daily basis in organizations and society have profound effects on outcomes that are significant in scope (Bourdieu, 1984; Feldman & Orlikowski, 2011; Gherardi, 2006). As March (2008) observed, “history is not produced by the dramatic actions and postures of leaders, but by complex combinations of large numbers of small actions by unimportant people.”
By grand challenges we refer to phenomena (Ferraro et al., 2015; George, Howard-Grenville et al., 2016) that focus collective attention and effort on solving specific problems, including education, health care, housing, fighting specific diseases such as cancer; dealing with climate change and environmental resilience; ensuring the availability of food and water, information distortion; political instability; poverty and inequality; human trafficking; etc. Grand challenges stretch across contextual boundaries (e.g., social, economic, environmental, and technological) and actors (individuals, social movements, NGOs, governments, organizations) and their solutions require orchestrating people, resources and actions into patterns. Building on these ideas, we can see that routine dynamics are relevant both to the production and resolution of grand challenges (Eberhard et al., 2019; Danner-Schröder & Geiger, 2016).
If routine dynamics can help us understand grand challenges, grand challenges may also help us understand routine dynamics. If grand challenges stretch across contextual boundaries and traditional definitions of actors, then studying grand challenges will enable us to explore issues we have identified as central to routine dynamics such as how we coordinate multiple routines and how connections among routines create stability and change (Feldman et al., 2016; Kremser & Schreyögg, 2016). Grand challenges also naturally raise issues about replication as routines are enacted in different places and time (past, present and future as well as time zones in the present) by different people (D’Adderio, 2014; Sele & Grand, 2016).
In line with the growing interest in connecting local and global phenomena, this sub-theme seeks papers that explore the connections between routine dynamics and global phenomena. We encourage empirical papers with a variety of different theoretical lenses and methodological approaches. Here are some example topics that would fit with this sub-theme:
Connections of levels and scales. How can we understand the mutual relationship between the micro-level or small-scale patterns of action within routines and the macro-level or large-scale phenomena?
Practice configurations. How do practices configure and how are they configured in light of grand challenges? How can we study this mutually configuration and the configurative power/agency?
Practical impact. Can a better understanding of routine dynamics help craft policies that steer us towards better societal outcomes? How can we translate what we see to make it accessible to policy makers?
Implements or impediments? Are routines simply impediments (sources of inertia)? Or can they be configured and deployed as implements (tools) for change?
Tipping points. Are there ways in which routines contribute to or inhibit rapid change?
Time scales and temporality. How can we study the effects of routines and practices in phenomena that occur over many years or decades? How are routines entrained with and within global challenges?