The role of transactive memory in the formation of organizational routines

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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


This study addresses how individuals combine their diverse skills during the process of forming organizational routines. Our explanation centers on the development of transactive memory, which forms during the initial performances of a routine, as actors search for (and subsequently remember) other actors with the capabilities needed to complete a routine. We present an agent-based model to analyze how the distribution and availability of individual capabilities influence the set of actors involved in performing routines, initially and over time. The model shows that even when the pattern of actions stays the same, the pattern of actors involved in performing an organizational routine can change continuously. Variations in the efficiency of routine formation that are inexplicable in terms of action sequences may be readily explained when we examine actor sequences. Transactive memory contributes to the theory of organizational routines by serving as a bridge between individuals' skills and collective capabilities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)109-133
Number of pages25
JournalStrategic Organization
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 2014

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under grant no. SES-0924786 and Ewha Womans University research grant no. 1-2012-2057-001-1.


  • Actor sequence variety
  • agent-based model
  • organizational routines
  • transactive memory


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