One More Ill-Defined, Un-Measured (?) Core Construct: Routines
| Nicolai Foss |
It seems that O&M may usefully introduce a new category: “Constructs that are central to one or more management fields, but so far have not been measured.” Yesterday, we blogged on opportunity discovery, and could report only one existing scale in the entrepreneurship literature. Today the focus is on routines, a frequently discussed topic here on O&M.
Routines are, of course, absolutely central in much management research, notably strategic management, international business, technology strategy, organizational theory and much else. The construct itself was essentially introduced to management research in Nelson and Winter’s 1982 book, An Evolutionary Theory of Economic Change, although it is often argued that it originates somewhat earlier, namely with the behavioralists (Simon, Cyert, & March; for a critique of this interpretation, see this paper).
The boundaries of the concept are, even for management research, highly ill-defined and virtually everything in an organization, save for physícal capital, that has some degree of stability has been called a routine by some author. As if this extreme inclusiveness wasn’t enough, it has even been argued that routines can be “sources of continuous change.”
Such conceptual fuzziness would seem to imply that almost anything goes, empirically speaking. In fact, there is quite a lot of empirical work on routines, and of a rather diverse nature. However, it all seems to be qualitative in nature (e.g., this recent paper), as least as far as I can see.
So, do you know of any attempts to grapple empirically with routines in the sense of actual measurement? Are there any scales out there?