Evolution, Innovation, Memes, Routines and Culture

11th EURAM Conference, Tallinn, Estonia, May 2011


Memes and narrative analysis: A potential direction for the development of neo-Darwinian orientated research in organizations.

Jameson Gill (Sheffield Hallam University, UK)
A number of authors have contributed to a diverse range of views concerning the possibility of evolutionary processes acting in organizations. Theories based on a self replicating cultural equivalent to the gene posit the 'meme' as the cultural replicator. A review of the memetic literature as part of study towards PhD empirical work has highlighted a lack of consensus in the memetic literature leading to difficulties in deciding on a method for operationalising research questions. The article describes how a dependence on the gene analogy, associated with much memetic knowledge, has led to unrecognised assumptions which are carried into memetic accounts of culture and identifies unresolved philosophical dilemmas. To achieve progress beyond the limited existing memetic empirical research a move to mainstream social science method is suggested in the form of narrative analysis.


(Re-)conceptualizing practice

Yoann Bazin (ESG Management School, France)
The only consensus, in the over-productive field of the practice perspective, seems to be the lack of agreement on the definition of its central concept. If one might consider it as a moving point, an ambitious research project cannot be built on a blurred concept. All the more since strategy (strategy-as-practice), organizational control (control-as-practice) and organization theory (around organizational routines) have used practice as a keystone. Therefore, the purpose of this paper is to shed a theoretical light on the practice literature. An extensive reading led me to consider this field has being stretched and to view practice as a moving point pulled in several directions. I will argue that there are four major dimensions to understand the role of practices in organizations: fluidity, scale, acquisition and reflexivity.


Characterising commercial organizational space and its evolution through urban landscape memes

Stephen Dobson (Sheffield Hallam University, UK)
The analogy of the city as an evolving system is an enduring one that is both universally acknowledged and greatly researched in equal measure. This paper aims to illustrate the potential for urban characterisation studies, emerging from the fields of cultural heritage and landscape, to provide a rich source of data for exploring memetic understanding of the city; both regarding the evolution of organizations and the urban spaces they occupy. It is asserted here that an evolutionary approach to urban complexity helps develop a fuller understanding of incremental impacts of change and reuse over time upon the overall character of urban areas. An analysis of commercial organizational space in the city of Sheffield, UK is provided here as the subject of study using English Heritage's Historic Landscape Characterisation dataset. It is hoped that such an approach may provide an important urban tool for revealing the impacts of both new and adapted organizational spaces as characteristics of the evolving city – particularly regarding culturally sustainable development within a context of urban 'deterratorialisation'.


Partnering Strategies in Biotech Firms: An Evolutionary Perspective

Fiorenza Belussi (Padua University, Italy) and Luigi Orsi (Padua University, Italy)
The goal of this paper is to understand partnering strategies of Dedicated Biotech Firms (DBFs) in order to add some caution to the generalized opinion according to which DBFs largely exploit their valuable knowledge by allying with incumbent pharmaceutical firms which possess complementary assets. While prior work has focused largely on biotech-pharma alliances, we believe that biotech firms are also engaged in a large number of bio-bio alliances. Considering that they do not have prior alliance experience, they choose a bio-bio alliance to avoid the strong bargaining power during the contractual design of large pharma firms. The theoretical framework is based on capabilities, and evolutionary theories of the firm. Using a sample of 530 US and 237 EU biotech firms, we test and find support for our arguments.


A routine perspective of managerial action: Antecedents and outcomes of the CEO routine engagement patterns

Luis Antonio Paredes-Izaguirre (IPADE Business School, Mexico) and Naresh R. Pandit (University of East Anglia, UK)
This article proposes a framework that posits the concept of CEO routine engagement patterns as a unit of analysis to conduct empirical research on managerial action. The framework is developed in three steps: (1) discussing the benefits and challenges of taking a routine based perspective of managerial action; (2) developing the concept of CEO routine engagement patterns according to its organizational and managerial value; (3) and developing propositions regarding the links between the routine engagement patterns and antecedent causes inherent to the CEO, and outcomes within the organization.


Organizational Adaptation. A Critical Review

Gianpaolo Abatecola (Tor Vergata University, Italy)
This historical review critically discusses how the debate on organizational adaptation has been evolving over time. I comment the most relevant theories informing this debate since the 1960s through the lens of the environmental determinism versus managerial voluntarism approach. I try to shed light on what these theories have proposed, why they have been formulated and what kind of visible or invisible colleges exist among them. The review indicates that the debate on organizational adaptation has undoubtedly been growing over the years, although it seems that the proliferation of the theoretical and empirical studies has still not provided literature with exhaustive and conclusive results on how adaptation really works.

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