Rethinking Stability and Change in the Study of Organizational Routines: Difference and Repetition in a Newspaper-Printing Factory

Jeremy Aroles, Christine Mclean

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Organizational life consists of an ever-changing world of encounters, experiences and complex sociomaterial relations. Within this context, standard routines can be seen as a solution to problems of inefficiency within organizations, especially when associated with images of stability, repeatability and standardization. This can bring a sense of order where there is disorder; and stability in the face of change. However, while standard routines may be seen as providing solutions within complex and ever-changing organizational worlds, they can also be viewed as sources of organizational problems. Through an ethnographic examination of two routines within a newspaper-printing factory, our paper seeks to build on and add to contributions within Routine Dynamics (RD) by highlighting the emergence and coexistence of change and stability and the enactment of standard routines through a performative process of difference and repetition. In particular, our paper examines how organizational stability and change emerge through the dynamic relations underlying the enactment of difference and repetition and how these relations involve various – sometimes hidden – micro processes that include the simplification and amplification of facts, scripts, and concerns. By drawing together the findings from our ethnographic research, studies within the area of RD and concepts relating to the work of Deleuze and Latour, our paper therefore contributes to the work on the repetition of routines by further unpacking the generative socio-material dynamics, creative forces and micro-processes that underlie the emergence of stability and change through difference and repetition.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)535-550
Number of pages16
JournalOrganization Science
Issue number3
Early online date26 Jan 2016
Publication statusPublished - May 2016


  • routines, stability, change, repetition, difference, scripts, simplification, amplification


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