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Unpacking organisational buying and selling; a routines perspective on the process of business service exchange

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Wednesday 30 March 2011, 13:00
LT11, Management School

Steve Kelly
(PhD Student)

Abstract: Buying and selling business services is frequently complex, dynamic in nature and at times an unsatisfactory experience for buyer and seller alike. It often involves multiple actors working both intra and inter-organisationally, who may be faced with uncertain and varying requirements and goals. This research uses routines theory (Feldman & Pentland, 2003), to develop an in-depth understanding of the interrelationship between the rules, both formal and informal, and the actual performances of the activities involved in buying and selling business services. Through a series of dyadic case studies of the tendering process for the purchasing of specific types of service, it will take a dynamic view of the iterative nature of these inter-organisational processes by looking at what actions should be taken in an ideal, abstract or schematic form and also what specific actions actually are taken by specific people, in specific places and times. A rational process mapping perspective would identify what these activities are in a systematic manner, however it offers little by way of a deeper understanding of the how and why of these activities. Taking a micro-level routines approach allows us to look at the complexity of the multiple, distributed perspectives on the rules and also how they influence and are influenced by the actual performances. The involvement of multiple intra and inter-organisational actors and the differences in the degree to which rules are written down, e.g. standard operating procedures, make this approach particularly useful in this context. By going beyond a consideration of whether individuals have, or have not, adhered to the rules, it builds on current routines literature, which highlights the innovative potential and ability of routines to act as an organisational mechanism for change.

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