Organisations in Action: Competition between Contexts

By Peter Clark | Go to book overview
12Contingent recurrent action patterns and repertoiresINTRODUCTIONWe start from the position explained in Part II that firms are embedded and shaped by their national contexts and that the contexts vary in the capabilities which inhere. The typical variety of sectoral clusters in a national context is part of the stratified reality within which firms exist. Moreover, the context contains those multinational businesses and sectoral clusters that affect the action of any focal firms in our analysis. Contexts imply zones of manoeuvre. Likewise firms have zones of manoeuvre within those contexts. The zones of manoeuvre for the firm also depend upon the capabilities in its repertoire and the political capacity of the firm’s constitution to action those capabilities. The previous chapter expressed scepticism about those approaches to strategy that ignore the stratified reality of the context and the finite, actual capabilities of the firm. The analytic problem is therefore one of developing a processual perspective and its key concepts with appropriate analogies and exemplars. The task is to unravel the process perspective on ‘in action’ by going beyond the familiar injunctions to be longitudinal, historical and in ‘real-time’. My argument is that the open system perspectives in organisation analysis have so far provided a limited roster of guidelines and illustrative materials because the issue of temporality and the production of space in which permanencies agglomerate has been neglected. In this chapter the main sections are:
• event cycles and temporality;
• structural pose or recurrent action patterns;
• distributed activity systems;
• repertoires and their activation.

This chapter starts by considering the extent to which the social anthropological approach of reconstructing the recursiveness of action will reveal patterns within organisational flux and process which can be the basis for an analytic approach (cf. Pugh and Hickson 1976). This line of enquiry has potential connections to the earlier discussion by organisational economists of the usefulness of recurrent action patterns. To illustrate the theme of recurrent action patterns in a socio-

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Organisations in Action: Competition between Contexts
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Illustrations ix
  • Part I - New Political Economy 1
  • 1 - Two Themes, Three Disciplines and Five Perspectives 3
  • 2 - From Modernism to Neo-Modern Political Economy 17
  • 3 - Organisation Theory 37
  • 4 - Structuration, Domain Theory and the Realist Turn 66
  • Notes 86
  • 5 - Organisation Economics and Economic Sociology 87
  • Part II - Competition Between Contexts 107
  • 6 - Long-Term Political Economy 109
  • 7 - National Innovation-Design Systems 133
  • 8 - Nations 158
  • 9 - American Exceptionalism 180
  • 10 - Sectoral Clusters and Competition Between Contexts 194
  • Part III - Firms 211
  • 11 - Resource-Based Strategic Analysis 213
  • Notes 229
  • 12 - Contingent Recurrent Action Patterns and Repertoires 230
  • 13 - Knowledges 249
  • 14 - Morphogenesis/Stasis 267
  • Part IV - Zones of Manoeuvre 289
  • 15 - Organisational Management and Zones of Manoeuvre 291
  • Bibliography 314
  • Index 339
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