Origin and Evolution of Routines - Radical and Incremental Innovation in the Automotive Industry
40 Pages Posted: 29 Jan 2014
Date Written: January 15, 2014
Research on organizational routines embodies the classical paradoxical tension between stability and change; yet, most findings are empirically based on stable, simple, technology-based and continuous processes. This paper inductively identifies mechanisms explaining the origin and the evolution of routines using data of problem-solving communication of two repeating car development projects. The study tackles the question of how organizations get new things done – repeatedly. Therefore, this article studies how cross-functional teams organize themselves over time when solving new problems in the fuzzy-front-end phase of innovation. It presents the result of a qualitative longitudinal case study of a project team working on the exterior car design at an automotive manufacturer. The case study concerns an in-depth analysis of a new, and hence reoccurring, technical problem. The research contributes to literature on organizational routines and innovation management in three ways. Firstly, we characterize the performative character of problem-solving, unveiling the generativeness of activities. Secondly, we show the difference of applied activities in new and routinized problem-solving, unveiling the evolution of a routine Thirdly, we observe the ostensive character of routines exemplified by the sequence and combination of activities. Finally, the study unveils reinforcing mechanisms for stabilizing new routines e.g. the intensive usage of engineering artifacts.
Keywords: Self-organization, routines, organizational learning, project-to-project learning, problem-solving, digitization, engineering artifacts, new product development
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