B12. Rice, R. E. & Cooper, S.D. (2010). Organizations and unusual routines: A systems analysis of dysfunctional feedback processes.  London: Cambridge University Press.  http://www.cambridge.org/catalogue/catalogue.asp?isbn=9780521768641
Unusual Routines book coverEveryone working in and with organizations will, from time to time, experience frustrations and problems when trying to accomplish tasks that are a required part of their role. This is an unusual routine - a recurrent interaction pattern in which someone encounters a problem when trying to accomplish normal activities by following standard organizational procedures and then becomes enmeshed in wasteful and even harmful subroutines while trying to resolve the initial problem. They are unusual because they are not intended or beneficial, and because they are generally pervasive but individually infrequent. They are routines because they become systematic as well as embedded in ordinary functions. Using a wide range of case studies and interdisciplinary research, this book provides researchers and practitioners with a new vocabulary for identifying, understanding, and dealing with this pervasive organizational phenomenon, in order to improve worker and customer satisfaction as well as organizational performance.

• Introduces and explains the concept of unusual routines, a very common but not well described or analyzed phenomenon • Broad interdisciplinary approach with extensive references and related examples from a wide range of disciplines • Provides detailed examples of the concept and experience of unusual routines through a number of case studies, including customer service episodes and six ICT implementations



TABLE OF CONTENTS

CHAPTER ONE: CRAZY SYSTEMS, KAFKA CIRCUITS AND UNUSUAL ROUTINES
Two Stories of Mundane Complexity and Dysfunctional Feedback
Sweeping It under the Rug
A Poetic License to Steal
Just Stories?
Crazy Systems
Causes
Kafka Circuits
Symptoms
Unusual Routines
The Rest of the Book

CHAPTER TWO: CAUSES, SYMPTOMS, AND SUBROUTINES OF UNUSUAL ROUTINES IN SIX COMPUTER INFORMATION/COMMUNICATION SYSTEMS
Causes of Unusual Routines in Three ICTs
Labor Cost System
Home Sale Automation System
Voice Mail System
Causes, Symptoms, and Sub-Routines of Unusual Routines in Three ICTs
Technical Issue Help Request System
On-Line Database Query System
An Employee Time Reporting System
Conclusion
Invisibility, Embeddedness, and Routinization of Unusual Routines
Unusual and Unintended Consequences of Unusual Routines

CHAPTER THREE: GETTING PERSONAL?UNUSUAL ROUTINES AT THE CUSTOMER SERVICE INTERFACE
Customer Service, Dissatisfaction, and Complaining
Complaints and Satisfaction
Service Fairness
Service Feedback Mediation
Technology and Service Literacy as Feedback Mediator
Perceptions and Attributions of Service Quality
Mediation of Service Feedback through Roles and Positions
Mediation of Feedback by Blocking and Non-Responding
Problematic Customers
Examples and Analysis of Unusual Service Subroutines, Routines and Organizational (Non)Response
Cases:
1. Your Checks are Safe With Us
2. Risky Investment: Figuring out How to Fill out Forms
3. Running Out of Gas
4. Please Call Back at Your Convenience
5. Next Time We Just Wreck your Car
6. Reproducing Problems
Conclusion

CHAPTER FOUR: A MULTI-THEORETICAL FOUNDATION FOR UNDERSTANDING UNUSUAL ROUTINES
Five Foundational Theories for a Preliminary Model of Unusual Routines
Systems Theory
Sensemaking Theory
Diffusion of Innovation Theory and Socio-Technical Systems Theory
Organizational Routines Theory
Developing a Preliminary Model of Unusual Routines
Complexity of Unusual Routines
Parameters and Components of Unusual Routines
Organizational Substrate
Five Propositions
Conclusion

CHAPTER FIVE: A DETAILED CASE STUDY OF UNUSUAL ROUTINES
Method
The Research Site
Data Collection
Sampling
Analytical Method
Proposition One
The System as Just a New Computer: The First Level Effects 
More than Just a New Computer System: Second Level Effects on the Social System 
The System as a Catalyst for Policy Change: A Major Second Level Effect 
Much More than Just a New Computer System: Second Level Effects on Value Chains
Proposition Two
The Difficulty of Managing a Loosely Coupled Structure 
Loose Coupling and Change Resistance 
The System Implementation and Subunit Coupling
Proposition Three
How a Blame Subroutine Can Camouflage Negligence 
How a Delay Subroutine Can Protect a Perquisite 
How ?Good? Decision Making Can Lead to an Error Subroutine
Proposition Four
Inclusion, Collegiality, Work Subroutines, and Delay Subroutines 
Representation and Process Losses 
Respecting All Stakeholders, and an Error Subroutine 
Student-Centeredness, and a Work Subroutine
The Problem of Dominance and Power Relations in Open Meetings 
Ideology and Change Resistance 
Contradictions, Opposing Perspectives, and Ideological Myths 
Proposition Five
Inclusive Decision Making and Its Discontents 
The Problem of Leadership in an Inclusive Organization 
Conclusion

CHAPTER SIX:  SUMMARY AND DISCUSSION OF THE CASE STUDY RESULTS
Proposition One
Proposition Two
Proposition Three
Proposition Four
Proposition Five
Discussion
ICT Implementation and Unusual Routines
Unusual Routines Beyond the ICT
Validity Challenges
A Revised Model of Unusual Routine Dynamics
Implications for Other Theories of Organizational Communication
Practical Implications
Directions for Future Research
Conclusion

CHAPTER SEVEN: INDIVIDUAL AND ORGANIZATIONAL CHALLENGES TO FEEDBACK
Feedback Challenges Inherent in Human Communication Behaviors
Desperately Seeking Feedback
Discourse and Language
Contextualizing Meaning by Layers
Reflexive Loops, Paradoxes, and Undesired Repetitive Patterns
Skilled Incompetence and the Contradictions of Competence
Feedback Challenges Inherent in Organizations
Reporting Errors through Feedback, and Errors of Reporting Feedback
Timing of Feedback
Learning by Doing Rather than by Learning
Learning from Feedback or Memorizing Responses?
Rational But Unreasonable, Even Schizophrenic, Systems
Vicious Circles
Defensive Routines and Mixed Messages
Conclusion

CHAPTER EIGHT: A MULTI-LEVEL AND CROSS-DISCIPLINARY SUMMARY OF CONCEPTS RELATED TO UNUSUAL ROUTINES
Cognitive and Social Processing Errors
Personal Heuristics
Cognitive Dissonance
Errors in Logic and Logics of Errors
Predictable Surprises, Worst Case Scenarios, and the Precautionary Principle
Social Traps and Dilemmas
Varieties of Social Traps and Dilemmas
Social Traps and Unusual Routines
Organizational Complexity
Organizational Interactions are Inherently Complex, Difficult to Identify, and Generate Unanticipated Consequences
Organizational Complexity and Rationality
Organizational Paradoxes
The Nature of Paradoxes
Positive and Negative Aspects of Paradoxes
Types of Organizational Paradoxes
Examples of Organizational Paradox
Organizational Deviance
Systemic and Normal
Employee Mistreatment
Technological Complexity
Technology is Inherently Complex and Difficult to Understand or Predict
System Manipulation
Technology Generates Normal Accidents
Automated Systems and System Error
Working Around Errors, and System Drift
Conclusion

CHAPTER NINE: RECOMMENDATIONS FOR RESOLVING AND MITIGATING UNUSUAL ROUTINES AND RELATED PHENOMENA
Encourage Customer Service Feedback from All Stakeholders
Apply Socio-Technical Systems Theory, Involve Stakeholders from Design through Walkarounds
Reduce Blaming and Defensive Approaches to Cognitive Dissonance
Manage Paradoxes and Sensemaking
Foster Learning through Feedback
Heighten Awareness of Predictable Surprises and Avoid Overreacting to Worst Case Scenarios
Understand and Resolve Social Traps and Social Dilemmas
Discuss and Resolve Conflicting Goals, Vicious Cycles and Workplace Deviance
Avoid Simple and Individual Approaches to Complex Technology and System Error
Apply and Combine Linkage and Routines Analysis
Linkage Analysis
Routines Analysis 
Conclusion

CHAPTER TEN: SUMMARY AND A TENTATIVE INTEGRATED MODEL OF UNUSUAL ROUTINES
The Allure of Unusual Routines
Our Preliminary Models
A Proposed Integrative Model of Unusual Routines
Conclusion

REFERENCES
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
INDEX

LIST OF TABLES AND FIGURES
Table 2.1. Summary of Causes and Symptoms of Unusual Routines in Six ICT Implementation Cases
Table 3.1. Model of Unusual Routines, Expanded from Singer?s Model of Crazy Systems
Table 3.2. Aspects of Unusual Routines in the Case Examples
Table 4.1. Aspects of Routines, Workarounds, and Metaroutines
Table 4.2. Conceptual Rationales Associated with Each Proposition
Table 5.1. Interview Guide
Table 5.2. Examples of Subroutines in the Case
Table 6.1. Working Taxonomy of the Single Loop Process from the Case
Table 6.2. Working Taxonomy of the Double Loop Process from the Case
Table 7.1. Development of Defensive Routines
Table 7.2. Summary of Individual and Organizational Challenges to Feedback
Table 8.1. Individual Processing Heuristics, with Example Application to Unusual Routines
Table 8.2. Organizational and Social Processes, with Example Application to Unusual Routines
Table 9.1. Types of Recommendations for Avoiding, Analyzing, Mitigating, and Resolving Unusual Routines and Related Processes
Table 10.1. Primary Components of General Concepts in Figure 10.1.

Figure 1.1. Initial Model of Unusual Routines, Derived from Singer?s Crazy Systems Model                  
Figure 4.1. Extended Model of Unusual Routines
Figure 6.1. Dynamics of Single-loop and Double-loop Learning in Unusual Routines
Figure 10.1. Concept-Level Integrated Model of Unusual Routines, Reflecting Second-Level Metaroutine