Path Dependency Research
The starting point for this research emphasis is the theory of path dependency, which is highly regarded in the field. We aim to apply this theory to organizational and strategic processes, meaning to development processes that cannot be fully directed (emergent processes) within and between organizations.
Analysis of organizational path dependencies, and the “lock-ins” they entail, offers a new way of looking at theoretical and practical problems in organizational decision-making processes as well as those involved in organizational and strategic flux within and between organizations. “Reform deadlock” and organizational inertia are considered and explained as the result of invisible path dependencies and emerging lock-ins. This also casts a number of well-known existing problems in business studies, such as structural inertia, the stickiness of certain costs, and unwillingness to face reform in a new light and opens up the processes through which these problems emerge to systematic explanation. In addition, the path approach accentuates the importance of unplanned (emergent) developments within businesses and explains how they arise. In so doing, the “organizational paths” project also touches upon another important locus of research in business administration, namely questions of suitability for planning, incrementalism, and limited rationality.
Our research in this field focuses in particular on explaining and analyzing forms of organizational path dependency, and builds upon these studies to examine the possibilities and limits of breaking new paths. In a further step, we look at questions of efficient path control.
- Constitution of organizational and strategic paths
- Methods and concepts in breaking of paths
- Strategic control and path dependency
Schreyögg, G./Sydow, J. (ed.):
Managementforschung 13: Strategische Prozesse und Pfade (Management Studies 13: Strategic Processes and Paths). Wiesbaden 2003.
Schreyögg, G./Sydow, J./Koch, J.:
Organisatorische Pfade – Von der Pfadabhängigkeit zur Pfadkreation? (Organizational Paths – From Path Dependency to Path Creation?), in: Schreyögg, G./Sydow, J. (ed.): Managementforschung 13: Strategische Prozesse und Pfade (Management Studies 13: Strategic Processes and Paths). Wiesbaden 2003.
Schreyögg, G./Koch, J./Sydow, J. (2004):
Routinen und Pfadabhängigkeit (Routines and Path Dependency). In: Schreyögg, G./Werder, A.v. (ed.): Handwörterbuch Unternehmensführung und Organisation (Pocket Dictionary of Business Management and Organization). 4th ed. Stuttgart, pp. 1296–1304.
Sydow, J./Schreyögg, G./Koch, J. (2005):
Organizational Paths: Path Dependency and Beyond. Freie Universität Berlin.
Courses and Events
Summer Semester 2003:
Seminar on “Organizational Change and Path Dependency”
Summer Semester 2004:
Lecture course on “Theories of Path Dependency”
As of 2005:
German Research Foundation (DFG) Research Training Group: “Pfadkolleg: Paths of Organizational Processes”