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

See all articles by Nicolai J. Foss

Nicolai J. Foss

Copenhagen Business School - Department of Strategy and Innovation

Teppo Felin

University of Oxford - Said Business School

Date Written: November 22, 2009

Abstract

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

Suggested Citation

Foss, Nicolai J. and Felin, Teppo, Experience and Repetition as Antecedents of Organizational Routines and Capabilities: A Critique of Behaviorist and Empiricist Approaches (November 22, 2009). SMG WP 9/2009, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1511672 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1511672

Nicolai J. Foss (Contact Author)

Copenhagen Business School - Department of Strategy and Innovation ( email )

Kilen
Frederiksberg, 2000
Denmark

Teppo Felin

University of Oxford - Said Business School ( email )

Park End Street
Oxford, OX1 1HP
Great Britain

HOME PAGE: http://sites.google.com/site/teppofelin2/

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