Dynamics of Performing and Remembering Organizational Routines

Kent D. Miller, Brian T. Pentland, Seungho Choi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

120 Scopus citations


This study addresses the dynamic interplay between action and memory in organizational routines. We consider three distinct forms of memory - procedural, declarative, and transactive - and examine their roles in the formation, efficiency, and adaptability of organizational routines. We introduce an agent-based model simulating organizational routines as repeated patterns of sequential tasks accomplished by networks of individuals. We model the formation of new routines, and changes in established organizational routines resulting from loss of personnel (due to downsizing) and changes in environmental demands. We find that transactive memory enhances problem-solving efficiency and facilitates adaptation to novel problems. Declarative memory built from past experience facilitates efficient routines in stable contexts, but obstructs efficiency gains when the organization encounters novel problems.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1536-1558
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Management Studies
Issue number8
StatePublished - Dec 2012


  • Agent-based model
  • Memory
  • Organizational learning
  • Organizational routines


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