Sub-theme 37:

(Re-)Assembling Routines

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Luciana D'Adderio, University of Edinburgh, UK

Martha S. Feldman, University of California, USA

Kajsa Lindberg, University of Gothenburg, Sweden

Call for Papers

The increasingly uncertain and fast-changing environments in which today?s organisations operate call for a shift of attention from organisations ? and organisational practices or routines ? as fixed entities to the distributed (Hutchins, 1995) and situated (Suchman, 1987; Lave, 1988) dynamics by which they emerge and are constructed. Capturing how organisations learn to strike a balance between stability/coherence and change/flexibility, however, is non-trivial. It requires abandoning static views of organisation to reveal the micro-dynamics of organising, including the processes through which organisational routines and capabilities emerge and evolve.

If the first step towards a dynamic characterisation of routines entails focusing on the interaction between structure and agency (Feldman, 2000; Feldman & Pentland, 2003), a next step involves acknowledging the key role that artefacts, objects, tools and technologies play in the creation and recreation of routines and in the process(es) of organizing (Pentland & Feldman 2008; D'Adderio 2008). Artefacts can play a part in the assembling, disassembling and reassembling of practices and routines both in everyday organizational life (Nicolini, Gherardi & Yanow, 2003; Rafaeli & Pratt, 2006) and during times of disruption (Lanzara, 1983; Quinn & Worline, 2008). As "inscriptions" embodying specific configurations or patterns of actions (Barley, 1986; Callon, 1986, Akrich, 1992; Latour, 1992) and interpretations (Pinch & Bijker, 1984) they may participate in the deconstruction and reconstruction of routines as they fold and unfold.

Thus, as we scholars take routines apart conceptually, and reassemble them from the ground up, we can learn from the distributed range of artefacts and objects that are typically involved in the course of enacting a routine, including, but not limited to, tools, forms, meters, rules and procedures, computer systems, classifications, spatial arrangements (Nelson & Winter, 1982; Cohen et al., 1996; Bowker & Star, 1999; Orlikowski, 2000; Schulz, 2008; Leonardi & Barley, 2008). Focusing on how configurations of artefacts and people come together and are stabilised in recurrent but continuously challenged patterns of interaction can provide valuable insights into how organisational routines are assembled and into the dynamics of stability and change.

In our quest to explore the interplay between routines and artefacts we encourage new perspectives drawing on diverse scholarly fields including ? but not limited to ? Organization Science, Science and Technology Studies, Innovation Studies, Sociology, Psychology, Information Systems and Anthropology. Interdisciplinary approaches can promote a more advanced understanding of the role of artefacts in routines emergence and evolution, change and adaptation, transfer and replication. We invite theoretical and theoretically-informed empirical papers and methodological contributions that advance our understanding of the relationship between routines/practices and objects/artefacts. We are particularly interested in papers based on case studies or empirically grounded theorizing, although we also welcome more conceptual-philosophical treatments, with a possible ? although not exclusive ? focus on the following topics:

  • How are artefacts implicated in the production and reproduction of practices/routines?

  • What are the processes by which artefacts influence routines and practices dynamics including their emergence and persistence, transfer and replication?

  • How do artefacts stabilize practices/routines and support routinization? How do artefacts disrupt routinization?

  • What is the role that artefacts play in the evolution of practices/routines? And vice-versa, how do artefacts change as a consequence of being involved in the performance of routines?

  • What is the relationship between artefacts and human agency in the production of practices/routines? What kind of agency do artefacts exhibit?

  • Which are the different ways in which we can characterise and classify artefacts? How can different ways of theorising artefacts influence our understanding of their nature and role?

  • What methodological approaches can be used to improve our understanding of the nature and role of artefacts in practices/routines?



Akrich, M. (1992): "The De-scription of Technical Objects." In: W.E. Bijker & J. Law (eds.): Shaping Technology/Building Society ? Studies in Sociotechnical Change. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Barley, S. (1986): "Technology as an Occasion for Structuring: Evidence from Observation of CT Scanners and the Social Order of Radiology Departments." Administrative Science Quarterly, 31, 78-108.
Bowker, G.C. & S.L. Star (1999): Sorting Things Out: Classification and its Consequences. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Callon, M. (1986): "Some Elements For A Sociology of Translation: Domestication of the Scallops and the Fishermen of St. Brieuc Bay." In: J. Law (ed.): Power, Action and Belief: A New Sociology of Knowledge? Sociological Review Monograph. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul.
Cohen, M.D., R. Burkhart, G. Dosi, M. Egidi, L. Marengo, M. Warglien & S.G. Winter (1996): "Routines and Other Recurring Patterns of Organizations: Contemporary Research Issues." Industrial Corporation Change, 5, 653-698.
D'Adderio, L. (2008): "The Performativity of Routines: Theorising the Influence of Artefacts and Distributed Agencies on Routines Dynamics." Research Policy, 37 (5), 769-789.
Feldman, M.S. (2000): "Organizational routines as a source of continuous change." Organization Science, 11, 611-629.
Feldman, M.S. & B.T. Pentland (2003): "Reconceptualizing organizational routines as a source of flexibility and change." Administrative Science Quarterly, 48, 94?118.
Hutchins, E. (1995): Cognition in the Wild. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Lanzara, G. (1983): "Ephemeral Organizations in Extreme Environments: Emergence, Strategy, Extinction." Journal of Management Studies, 20 (1), 71-95.
Latour, B. (1992): "Where are the missing masses? The sociology of a few mundane artefacts." In: W.E. Bijker & J. Law (eds.): Shaping Technology/Building Society: Studies in Sociotechnical Change. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 225-258.
Lave, J. (1988): Cognition in Practice. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Leonardi, P.M. & S.R. Barley (2008): "Materiality and Change: Challenges to Building Better Theory about Technology and Organizing." Information and Organization, 18 (3), 159-176
Nelson, R.R. & S.G. Winter (1982): An Evolutionary Theory of Economic Change. Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press.
Nicolini, D., S. Gherardi & D. Yanow (eds.) (2003): Knowing in Organizations: A Practice-Based Approach. Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe.
Orlikowski, W.J. (2000): "Using Technology and Constituting Structures: A Practice Lens for Studying Technology in Organizations." Organization Science, 11 (4), 404-428.
Pentland, B.T. & M.S. Feldman (2008): "Designing routines: On the folly of designing artifacts, while hoping for patterns of action." Information & Organization, 18 (4), 235-250.
Pinch, T.J. & W.E. Bijker (1984): "The Social Construction of Facts and Artefacts: Or How the Sociology of Science and the Sociology of Technology Might Benefit Each Other." Social Studies of Science, 14 (3), 399-441.
Quinn, R.W. & M.C. Worline (2008): "Enabling Courageous Collective Action: Conversations from United Airlines Flight 93." Organization Science, 19 (4), 497-516.
Rafaeli, A. & M. Pratt (2006): Artifacts and Organizations. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
Schulz, M. (2008): "Staying on track: A voyage to the internal mechanisms of routine production." In: M. Becker (ed.): Handbook of Organizational Routines. Northampton, MA: Edward Elgar.
Suchman, L.A. (1987): Plans and Situated Action: The Problem of Human-Machine Communication. Cambridge, MA: Cambridge University Press.


Luciana D'Adderio?(SPRU-Sussex University PhD, 2002) is a Lecturer in Technology Management at the University of Edinburgh (UK) and an Innovation Fellow with the Advanced Institute of Management (AIM) Research. Her AIM award, titled "Making Innovation Dependable" (see: examines the challenges to innovation in global high-technology production. Luciana?s research focuses on the micro dynamics of organisational routines and capabilities, with an emphasis on the role of distributed agencies, artefacts and technologies on their emergence, evolution and maintenance, codification, transfer and replication. She has published research articles in leading Organisational, Innovation and Information Systems journals, as well as a monograph with Edward Elgar (2004).

Martha S. Feldman?(Stanford University PhD, 1983) is the Johnson Chair for Civic Governance and Public Management at the University of California, Irvine. Her current research on organizational routines explores the role of performance and agency in creating, maintaining and altering these fundamental organizational phenomena. She is a Senior Editor for Organization Science (as of June 2006) and serves on the editorial boards of several other journals and book series. She has written 4 books and many articles on the topics in organization theory, public management and qualitative research methods. She received the Administrative Science Quarterly's 2009 award for Scholarly Contribution for her work on organization routines.

Kajsa Lindberg?(University of Gothenburg PhD, 2002) is a senior lecturer and a researcher at Gothenburg Research Institute (GRI), School of Business, Economics and Law, University of Gothenburg. Her current research on technology and practice explores how norms and ways of working co-evolve with the technologies in use. Her research of the pharmacy market focuses on the complexity characterizing the construction of markets, organizations, and professional groups. She has published research articles in Human Relations, Scandinavian Journal of Management and International Journal of Health Planning and Management, as well as a monograph with Liber (2009).

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