Synthesizing the Paradox of Organizational Routine Flexibility and Stability: A Processual View


International Journal of Technology Management

2008, vol. 41, n°1/2, pp.7-21

Départements : Management et Ressources Humaines

Organisational routines have paradoxically been recognised as one of the most important elements of both stability and flexibility in organisational behaviour. Identifying routines as sources of stability, macro-level theories tend to overlook micro-level subjective aspects, such as tacit knowledge, intrinsic motivation, and values. Drawing from the knowledge-creation theory (Nonaka, 1994), this paper synthesises the micro and macro, and the subjective and objective dimensions of organisational routines. Organisational routines are described as sources for stability and flexibility, enabling and constraining thought and action of organisational actors. Examples of routines are provided from two Japanese automakers, Honda and Toyota, to describe a dynamic interaction among individuals and their work environment. Conclusions and research limitations are provided. Keywords: Japan; knowledge creation; organisational routines; flexibility; stability; organisational behaviour; Honda; Toyota; automobile industry; tacit knowledge; intrinsic motivation; values.