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Routine scale in explaining stability and change in the face of a disruption

A Strategy & Organisation webinar.

  • 12 May 2021, 12.00pm to 12 May 2021, 1.00pm BST (GMT +01:00)
  • This is an online event.
  • This event is free

Garima Sharma, Georgia State University will discuss her research:


Organizational scholars have implicitly theorized that routines have scale by asserting that routines have spatiotemporal attributes, and subroutines are nested within more macro routines. However, by failing to explicitly theorize routine scale, scholars may have missed the opportunity to better understand why routines remain stable or change. In this paper, we study a social innovation lab in Toronto to understand how the scale of routines can explain stability and change inside organizations? In this study, we saw clearly how routines were nested in other routines. Halfway through our study, however, the project that we were observing in the social innovation lab was disrupted because it lost its funding. This event gave us an opportunity to look at how the disruption shifted the social innovation lab’s processes. Following an abductive approach, we reframed our research question to how does the scale of routines help an organization manage a disruption to continue to move toward its desired goals? Our six-months participant observation of the social innovation lab renders a novel understanding of disruption and routines. In this paper, we found that there were micro routines at a smaller spatiotemporal scale that could be accelerated to ensure that the project was delivered on time, and that there were more macro routines at a larger spatiotemporal scale that ensured that the project continued toward its desired goals. This structure of routines at different scales has not yet been discussed in prior research, and may explain why some disruptive events derail routines and other events do not.

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