Experience and Repetition as Antecedents of Organizational Routines and Capabilities: A Critique of Behaviorist and Empiricist Approaches
SMG WP 9/2009
41 Pages Posted: 23 Nov 2009
Date Written: November 22, 2009
We discuss the behaviorist and empiricist foundations of the organizational routines and capabilities literature, specifically the extant emphasis placed on experience, repetition and observation as the key inputs and mechanisms of behavior, learning and change in organizations. Based on this discussion we highlight several concerns associated with specifying experience and repetition as antecedents of routines and capabilities, namely, (1) the problem of origins and causation, (2) the problem of extremes, (3) the problem of intentionality, (4) the problem of new knowledge, and (5) the problem of the environment. We highlight the “poverty of stimulus” argument and more generally discuss how internalist or rationalist, choice-based approach might provide a more fruitful (though preliminary) foundation for extant research on organizational routines and capabilities.
Keywords: Organizational routines and capabilities, repetition and experience, empiricism and rationalism
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