A Comprehensive Framework for Considering Practices and Processes
29 Pages Posted: 8 Mar 2011 Last revised: 20 Mar 2011
Date Written: December 31, 2010
We proposed four categories for a set of activities that integrate both practices and processes: practice, recorded practice, endorsed process, and mandated process. We considered their usefulness for explaining phenomena, including change over time. We then applied them to a case in which a company that had a large incumbent business launched a new business. We observed that when the mandated process has limitations in fulfilling a need, a move to a less formal process or practice occurred, allowing for experimentation. When the mandated process proved effective, people used the activities in their daily work. This case study suggests that formal processes are cost efficient and effective only if the problem that must be solved is relatively stable and predictable. When an environmental change occurs, people start to invent new ad hoc ways to deal with it. These ad hoc activities might become practices if they prove useful. By using this more articulated continuum, researchers can better understand the dimensions of the tension between informality and formality.
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