Network antecedents of catch22-routines

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Many organizations rely on the stability and continuity that organizational routines provide. Organizational routines are repetitive, recognizable patterns of interdependent actions, involving multiple actors and are key to organizational performance. Recent studies have emphasized the important role of organizational routines in both stability and change in organizations. Scholars distinguish between rules and procedures that have been formulated by management; and the actual work practice- e.g., how these rules are carried out on a day-to-day basis. The terms “ostensive” and “performative” indicate these two dimensions: ostensive refers to abstract patterns, and performative to specific actions.
However, routines that are unavoidable yet harmful for organizations – what I call “catch22-routines” – have not yet been researched. In this paper, I develop a novel understanding of organizational routines, specifically I focus on catch22-routines which are organizational routines that (a) fulfil the requirements of organizational routines (multiple actors carry out repetitive and recognizable interdependent actions); in addition (b) cannot be avoided and (c) are harmful for organizations, whichever course of action they choose: damned if they do, but equally damned if they don’t. In particular, I will conceptualize and define these routines, and develop theory on the antecedents on catch22-routines. To that end, I draw on network theory to explain the underlying theoretical mechanisms of catch22-routines. Given the ambiguous nature of these routines, the possible antecedents of catch22-routines must lie in positive as well as negative organizational relationships. In the paper, I will develop propositions that address the ambiguous nature of the routines in conjunction with positive and negative network antecedents. I conclude with implications for theory and practice.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2017


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