Sub-theme 70: Routines Dynamics: Enacting and Crossing Boundaries -> HYBRID!

Maria Booth
University of Linköping, Sweden
Daniel Geiger
University of Hamburg, Germany
Waldemar Kremser
Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria

Call for Papers

Exactly 20 years ago, Feldman and Pentland (2003) laid the foundations for a new perspective on work and organizing by studying the endogenous dynamics of individual routines. Research on Routine Dynamics enabled us to better appreciate the relevance of situated performances, individual actors (Howard-Grenville, 2005), and material artifacts (D’Adderio, 2008) for the stability and change of routines and, by implication, organizations. More recently, Routine Dynamics studies have expanded the scope and moved away from studying single routines in isolation towards considering the interactions among multiple routines in organizations, providing us with new and exciting insights into the complex dynamics within and between organizational routines (Rosa, Kremser, & Bulgacov, 2021).
Broadening our view from single to multiple routines almost inevitably brings the issue of boundaries to the fore (Kremser, Pentland, & Brunswicker, 2019). At the most basic level, as researchers we need an understanding of boundaries to be able to distinguish one routine from another. But boundaries are much more than that. In organizational practice, the performing of boundaries helps to establish differences – for example between actions, actors, places, times, logics, values, or norms – and marks them as relevant for action, thereby helping practitioners to collectively and effectively engage in a routine performance (Geiger, Danner-Schröder, & Kremser, 2021). At the same time, coordinating towards larger outcomes often requires crossing boundaries over time and space (Bucher & Langley, 2016), as well as between organizations, occupations and roles (Carlile, 2004; Helfen, 2015; Kellogg, Orlikowski, & Yates, 2006).
Since the concept of boundaries is relevant far beyond the limits of research on Routine Dynamics (Langley et al., 2019), thinking about boundaries also enriches the field by building bridges, and crossing boundaries, to different research fields, such as social networks, strategic management research (Parmigiani & Mitchell, 2009), information systems (Levina & Vaast, 2005), power, and organizational inclusion (Dobusch, 2021), to name a few. Finally, and of specific relevance for the topic of the 39th EGOS Colloquium, boundaries have also proven to be a helpful analytical device in understanding the organizing of a good life. The boundaries between work and private life, for example, can be a key concern when it comes to establishing safe spaces in and around organizations (Ashforth, 2000; Kreiner, Hollensbe, & Sheep, 2009).

Hence, suggested topics of this sub-theme include, but are not limited to:

  • Routine Dynamics across boundaries: Organizational routines are often performed across boundaries. Many routines span multiple departments, sometimes even multiple organizations, maybe even in different geographical locations where actors make their contributions at different points in time. What are the dynamics of routine performances that cross specific social or occupational boundaries? What are the dynamics of patterning across temporal and spatial boundaries? How are routine performances affected when organizational or legal boundaries are crossed? What is the role of routine dynamics in crossing, or sustaining the tensions between, different institutional logics?

  • Performing routine boundaries: When we study routines we often consider them in relation to other routines. But what are the boundaries of routines and how do they come to matter? How are routine boundaries performed and how do these boundaries emerge, change, stay the same, or dissolve? What are the different types of coordination (and conflict) within and across routine boundaries? And how is coordination across boundaries more or less challenging and more or less conflictual? How does the notion of boundary performances help us to understand the coordination of routine performances?

  • Routine Dynamics fostering boundaries: Performing routines inevitably creates and maintains boundaries, like e.g. social boundaries. For example, when the specific way in which a routine ought to be performed inevitably includes some, but excludes others. Or when being part of the performance of a specific routine defines, explicitly or implicitly, who belongs and who doesn’t. How can we investigate and theorize these boundary-creating effects of routine performances? And what is the role of power in all of this? How are organizational routines implicated in the seizing, manifesting, and maintaining of status systems and their boundaries?

  • Methodological considerations regarding boundaries in Routine Dynamics research: A foundational assumption of Routine Dynamics research is that routines are not “things”. Yet they are defined as recognizable and, hence, somehow distinct patterns. Against this backdrop, how can we, as researchers, conceive of boundaries of routines? How do we empirically establish the apparent boundedness of routine performances? How can boundaries be defined and studied? What are the methodological challenges and stepping stones for studying boundaries of and between routines?



  • Ashforth, B.E. (2000): Role Transitions in Organizational Life: An Identity-based Perspective. New York: Routledge.
  • Bucher, S., & Langley, A. (2016): “The Interplay of Reflective and Experimental Spaces in Interrupting and Reorienting Routine Dynamics.” Organization Science, 27 (3), 594–613.
  • Carlile, P.R. (2004): “Transferring, Translating, and Transforming : An Integrative Framework for Managing Knowledge Across Boundaries.” Organization Science, 15 (5), 555–568.
  • D’Adderio, L. (2008): “The performativity of routines: Theorising the influence of artefacts and distributed agencies on routines dynamics.” Research Policy, 37 (5), 769–789.
  • Dobusch, L. (2021): “The inclusivity of inclusion approaches: A relational perspective on inclusion and exclusion in organizations.” Gender, Work and Organization, 28 (1), 379–396.
  • Feldman, M.S., & Pentland, B.T. (2003): “Reconceptualizing organizational routines as a source of flexibility and change.” Administrative Science Quarterly, 48, 94–118.
  • Geiger, D., Danner-Schröder, A., & Kremser, W. (2021): “Getting Ahead of Time – Performing Temporal Boundaries to Coordinate Routines under Temporal Uncertainty.” Administrative Science Quarterly, 66 (1), 220–264.
  • Helfen, M. (2015): “Institutionalizing Precariousness ? The Politics of Boundary Work in Legalizing Agency Work in Germany, 1949-2004.” Organization Studies, 36 (10), 1387–1422.
  • Howard-Grenville, J.A. (2005): “The Persistence of Flexible Organizational Routines: The Role of Agency and Organizational Context.” Organization Science, 16 (6), 618–636.
  • Kellogg, K.C., Orlikowski, W.J., & Yates, J. (2006): “Life in the Trading Zone: Structuring Coordination Across Boundaries in Postbureaucratic Organizations.” Organization Science, 17 (1), 22–44.
  • Kreiner, G.E., Hollensbe, E.C., & Sheep, M.L. (2009): “Balancing Borders and Bridges: Negotiating the Work-Home Interface via Boundary Work Tactics.” The Academy of Management Journal, 52 (4), 704–730.
  • Kremser, W., Pentland, B.T., & Brunswicker, S. (2019): “Interdependence within and between Routines: A Performative Perspective.” In: M.S. Feldman, L. D’Adderio, K. Dittrich & P.A. Jarzabkowski (eds.): Routine Dynamics in Action: Replication and Transformation. Bingley: Emerald Publishing Limited, 79–98.
  • Langley, A., Lindberg, K., Mørk, B.E., Nicolini, D., Raviola, E., & Walter, L. (2019): “Boundary Work among Groups, Occupations, and Organizations: From Cartography to Process.” Academy of Management Annals, 13 (2), 704–736.
  • Levina, N., & Vaast, E. (2005): “The Emergence of Boundary Spanning Competence in Practice : Implications for Implementation and Use of Information Systems.” MIS Quarterly, 29 (2), 335–363.
  • Parmigiani, A., & Mitchell, W. (2009): “Complementarity, Capabilities, and the Boundaries of the Firm: The Impact of within-firm and interfirm Expertise on Concurrent Sourcing of Complementary Components.” Strategic Management Journal, 30 (10), 1065–1091.
  • Rosa, R.A., Kremser, W., & Bulgacov, S. (2021): “Routine Interdependence : Intersections , Clusters , Ecologies and Bundles.” In: L. D’Adderio, K. Dittrich, M.S. Feldman, B.T. Pentland, C. Rerup, & D. Seidl (eds.): Cambridge Handbook of Routine Dynamics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, chapter 17.
Maria Booth is a post-doctoral researcher at the division of Information Systems and Digitalization at University of Linköping, Sweden. Her research focuses on the role of artefactual routine representations and routine design in organizational change. Maria has previously conducted her research within the context of new product development and innovation, and is currently studying the use of digital tools in local governance and public services.
Daniel Geiger is Professor for Organization Studies at the University of Hamburg, Germany. His research focuses on the dynamics of organizational routines, particularly in situations of crisis and emergencies. Most recently he explores the temporal and spatial dimensions of coordinating routines in dealing with tensions. Daniel’s research has been published in ‘Administrative Science Quarterly’, ‘Organization Science’, ‘Organization Studies’, ‘Organization’, ‘Journal of Management Studies’, among others.
Waldemar Kremser is Professor of Strategic Management at Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria. In his research, he combines thoughts from routine dynamics, systems theory, and complexity theory. Waldemar is most interested in open strategy processes, self-managing forms of organizing, self-reinforcing dynamics and radical innovations. In exploring these phenomena empirically, he combines ethnographic research with the analysis of various forms of digital trace data.