The void at the heart of rules: routines in the context of rule-following. The case of the Paris Metro Workshop

The void at the heart of rules: routines in the context of rule-following. The case of the Paris... This paper is an attempt to understand how rules operate in organizations. I focus on the links between organizational routines and rules that are incomplete in their application. I analyse the role of routines in managing the incompleteness of rules. I present a case study where management introduced a productivity bonus in the middle of 1992. This allows for the study of the extent to which the new rule modifies the prevailing routines of work organization. Based on team observations, interviews and statistics that I carried out over a period of nine years (1992–2000), I show that in an initial period, the productivity bonus has partially biased the task selection process. In a second period—‘the normal period’—our observations indicate that following the rules consists in translating the abstract rules into concrete reference points, and adding in what the rules have not specified. The translation process conducts to a routine since the interpretation is stabilized. Routines provide a pragmatic, local and temporary solution to the incompleteness of rules. Since routines emerge only in the course of action, they come with no guarantee of success. That constitutes their dynamic. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Industrial and Corporate Change Oxford University Press

The void at the heart of rules: routines in the context of rule-following. The case of the Paris Metro Workshop

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Publisher
Oxford University Press
Copyright
© The Author 2005. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Associazione ICC. All rights reserved.
ISSN
0960-6491
eISSN
1464-3650
DOI
10.1093/icc/dth073
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

This paper is an attempt to understand how rules operate in organizations. I focus on the links between organizational routines and rules that are incomplete in their application. I analyse the role of routines in managing the incompleteness of rules. I present a case study where management introduced a productivity bonus in the middle of 1992. This allows for the study of the extent to which the new rule modifies the prevailing routines of work organization. Based on team observations, interviews and statistics that I carried out over a period of nine years (1992–2000), I show that in an initial period, the productivity bonus has partially biased the task selection process. In a second period—‘the normal period’—our observations indicate that following the rules consists in translating the abstract rules into concrete reference points, and adding in what the rules have not specified. The translation process conducts to a routine since the interpretation is stabilized. Routines provide a pragmatic, local and temporary solution to the incompleteness of rules. Since routines emerge only in the course of action, they come with no guarantee of success. That constitutes their dynamic.

Journal

Industrial and Corporate ChangeOxford University Press

Published: Oct 5, 2005

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