Rouslan Koumakhov & Adel Daoud (2017)
Industrial and Corporate Change, 26(4), p. 727–743
Abstract. The proponents of practice approaches to organizational routines claim that Herbert Simon’s conceptualization of routines overlooks issues of mindfulness, agency, and interpretation. We show that this criticism of Simon’s account of rule-based behavior in organizations is unsound. More importantly, Simon’s account overcomes some serious limitations of practice approaches with regard to understanding reflexivity, subjectivity, and improvisation. We reconstruct Simon’s view of organizational rules and cognition as part of his decision-making theory. In this view, rules are not rigid repetitive patterns of action, but mental structures allowing for various degrees of subjective interpretation, behavioral flexibility, and strategic action. We emphasize the central place that Simon assigns to the concept of a shared cognitive model governing representations of reality, and the importance of this concept in understanding the issue of rule-based behavior. Simon’s analysis is contemporary and powerful, insofar as it offers a valuable and comprehensive alternative to current understandings of routine and cognition in organizations.