Qualification project

Open Routines in Creative Collaboration

Research Department: Dynamics of Economic Spaces

IRS Research Topic: Research on Innovation Processes

Project Leader within IRS: Lukas Vogelgsang

Duration: 10/2016 - 05/2019

Although several studies emphasize the value of improvisation, accidents, and uncertainty for innovation and creativity, these notions are still primarily viewed as threats to be controlled. In order to reduce uncertainty within organizational processes, management typically tends to use standardization and routine. There is a broad consensus in management theory and economic geography that routines and uncertainty are inversely proportional. I argue, however, that some routines do not reduce but induce uncertainty again and again. Hence, I propose the concept of open routines which (1) are repetitive, recognizable patterns of interdependent actions as routines, (2) at the same time are open to endogenously induce uncertainty and (3) offer important means to increase organizational creativity.

I formulate a theory of these open routines and identify conditions that foster their potential to induce uncertainty – their degree of openness. A special focus is put on the influence of spatial conditions on uncertainty in routine performances. Specifically, I analyze how routines “open up” as they are (re)created at different sites by different agencies and through different artifacts. Therefore, I add insight on the spatial dynamics of uncertainty within knowledge networks.

In detail I showcase empirical findings of uncertainty inducing routines within the pharmaceutical industry and their connection to location, agency, and artifacts. I unite these findings with the established theory of routine dynamics and frame the term of open routines in a grounded theory approach.