Sub-theme 06: [SWG] Routine Dynamics: New Ways of Organizing

Luciana D’Adderio
Strathclyde Business School, United Kingdom
Brian T. Pentland
Michigan State University, USA
Waldemar Kremser
Radboud University, The Netherlands

Call for Papers

The aim of this sub-theme is to advance our understanding of how new forms of materiality influence organizational practices or routines and their outcomes. We start from the observation that recent trends in technology and innovation, including digital tools and infrastructures, are reconfiguring organizations and their wider ecosystems by affording radical new ways of organizing. No longer restricted by the domain of physical, visible and durable materials and infrastructures, recent innovations are often invisibly spreading across each and every aspect of our work and our lives (Yoo et al., 2012; Faraj et al., 2018).

Social media, big data and analytics, artificial intelligence, 3D printing and additive manufacturing are reshaping practices in every sector of the economy with fundamental implications for innovation, growth and productivity. The implications for society are just as great, including consequences for the development of competences and skills, access to resources and services, inclusion or exclusion from socio-economic and political activities. Within and across organizational contexts, these new forms of materiality are transforming virtual and physical interactions and workplace practices, automating creative and innovative activities, and substituting algorithms for human actors in knowledge work (Orlikowski & Scott, 2016) including decision-making and diagnostics.
We are thus witnessing the emergence of new approaches to designing practices/routines (D’Adderio, 2008; Pentland & Feldman, 2008; Glaser, 2017) and organizations (Puranam et al., 2014) which exploit digital advances to generate, at least in principle, more transparent, distributed and flexible forms of organizing - including networks and platforms, agile and open organizations. It is already clear, at this stage, that the theoretical and methodological tools we rely on to analyse and understand the implications for practices, organizations and beyond are all but blunt instruments unable to fully capture the complexities of the challenges confronting us (Ferraro et al., 2015; George et al., 2016).
This is where the field of Routine Dynamics (Feldman et al., 2016) becomes particularly useful and promising. By routine dynamics (RD) we mean the processes through which organizational routines form and change (or resist change) over time. Recent contributions in RD have begun to address how materiality (e.g. artifacts and technology, and their embedded assumptions) are performed within and across practices and routines (D’Adderio, 2014; Carlile et al., 2013), ultimately bearing substantial implications for organizational change and stability. Methodologies inspired by new epistemological and ontological sensitivities (Feldman & Orlikowski, 2011; Pentland et al., 2011; Jones, 2014; Nicolini, 2016), are now required to address the emergent challenges by theorizing practices and routines in increasingly complex, distributed and materially-mediated domains. Topics include:

  • Innovation, Creativity and Change. Which ways of organizing are emerging as a consequence of change and innovation? How do organizations configure their routines to respond to change in innovative settings (Cohendet & Simon, 2016; Salvato & Rerup, 2018)?

  • Technology, Artifacts and Materiality. How are new forms of materiality shaping practices and routines in traditional and new organizational settings? How do we capture and study materiality in the age of the algorithm? Which new methods/approaches do we require?

  • Networks, Platforms and Ecologies. How do (digital) technologies shape distributed organizational dynamics? What is the nexus between notions of platforms and ecologies or networks of routines?

  • Agility, Flexibility and Automation. Are new forms of organization more or less routine than more traditional organizations? What is the role of routinization in agility? What kinds of automation are emerging and how can they be captured through the lens of routines?

  • Temporality, Timing and Rhythm. What time scales are relevant for new forms of organizing? What role do temporal phenomena like entrainment play in new forms of organizing? How is temporality performed in and through technology?

  • Transparency, Responsibility and Accountability. What are the consequences of new technologies for process transparency? How can a focus on practices and routines help us capture the effects of new forms of materiality on work and organizational communities?




  • Carlile, P., Nicolini, D., Langley, A., & Tsoukas, H. (eds.) (2013): How Matter Matters: Objects, Artifacts, and Materiality in Organization Studies. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.
  • Cohendet, P.S., & Simon, L. (2016): “Always Playable: Recombining Routines for Creative Efficiency at Ubisoft Montreal’s Video Game Studio.” Organization Science, 27 (3), 614–632.
  • 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.
  • D’Adderio, L. (2014): “The Replication Dilemma Unravelled: How Organizations Enact Multiple Goals in Routines Transfer.” Organization Science, 25 (5), 1325–1350.
  • Faraj, S., Pachidi, S., & Sayegh, K. (2018): “Working and organizing in the age of the learning algorithm.” Information and Organization, 28 (1), 62–70.
  • Feldman, M., & Orlikowski, W. (2011): “Theorizing Practice and Practicing Theory.” Organization Science, 22 (5), 1240–1253.
  • Feldman, M.S., Pentland, B.T., D’Adderio, L., & Lazaric, N. (2016): “Beyond routines as things: Introduction to the special issue on routine dynamics.” Organization Science, 27 (3), 505–513.
  • Ferraro, F., Etzion, D., & Gehman, J. (2015): “Tackling Grand Challenges Pragmatically: Robust Action Revisited.” Organization Studies, 36 (3), 363–390.
  • George, G., Howard-Grenville, J., Joshi, A., & Tihanyi, L. (2016): “Understanding and Tackling Societal Grand Challenges through Management Research.” Academy of Management Journal, 59 (6), 1880–1895.
  • Glaser, V. (2017): “Design Performances. How Organizations Inscribe Artifacts to Change Routines.” Academy of Management Journal, 60 (6), 2126–2154.
  • Jones, M. (2014): “A Matter of Life and Death: Exploring Conceptualizations of Sociomateriality in the Context of Critical Care.” MIS Quarterly, 38 (3), 895–925.
    Nicolini, D. (2016): “Is small the only beautiful? Making sense of ‘large phenomena’ from a practice-based perspective.” In: A. Hui, T. Schatzki & E. Shove (eds.): The Nexus of Practices Connections. Constellations, practitioners. London: Routledge, 98–113.
  • Orlikowski, W.J., & Scott S.V. (2016): “Digital Work: A Research Agenda.” In: Barbara Czarniawska (ed.): A Research Agenda for Management and Organization Studies. Northampton: Edward Elgar Publishing, 88–96.
  • Pentland, B.T., & Feldman, M.S. (2008): “Designing routines: On the folly of designing artifacts, while hoping for patterns of action.” Information and Organization, 18 (4), 235–250.
  • Pentland, B.T., Haerem, T., & Hillison, D. (2011): “Comparing Organizational Routines as Recurrent Patterns of Action.” Organization Studies, 31 (7), 917–940.
  • Puranam, P., Alexy, O., & Reitzig, M. (2014): “What’s ‘New’ About New Forms of Organizing?” Academy of Management Review, 39 (2), 162–180.
  • Salvato, C., & Rerup, C. (2018): “Routine Regulation: Balancing Conflicting Goals in Organizational Routines.” Administrative Science Quarterly, 63 (1), 170–209.
  • Yoo, Y., Boland, R.J., Lyytinen, K., & Majchrzaket, A. (2012): “Organizing for Innovation in the Digitized World.” Organization Science, 23 (5), 1398–1408.
Luciana D’Adderio is Reader in Management (Senior Associate Professor) at Strathclyde Business School, UK. Her research focuses on the micro dynamics of organizational practices and routines, with an emphasis on the role of agency and materiality on their emergence, evolution and maintenance, codification, transfer and replication. Luciana served as a Senior Editor for the Special Issue of ‘Organization Science’ on “Routine Dynamics”.
Brian T. Pentland is the Main Street Capital Partners Endowed Professor in the Broad College of Business at Michigan State University, USA. His creative work has appeared in ‘Academy of Management Review’, ‘Administrative Science Quarterly’, ‘Journal of Management Studies’, ‘Management Science’, ‘MIS Quarterly’, ‘Organization Science’, ‘Organization Studies’, YouTube, and elsewhere.
Waldemar Kremser is Assistant Professor in the Institute for Management Research at Radboud University, The Netherlands. In his research, he is combining a practice perspective on routines and their endogenous dynamics with insights from complexity theory and organization design. His work on the intersection of routine interdependence and organization design has appeared in ‘Organization Science’.