Martin Schulz is an Associate Professor at the
University of British Columbia,
located in Vancouver,
Soziologie Diplom 1982 Universität Bielefeld
MA 1989 Stanford University
PhD 1993 Stanford University
|I am a sociologist, specialized on organizations. I am working in a business school, teaching organizational behavior, statistical models, organizational learning, and organization theory.|
My research is on change and persistence -- how and why organizations and their components change and persist through time. I hope to contribute with my research to a deeper understanding of the unfolding of social and organizational worlds. Sociology makes us aware that humans are the products of the structures they grow up and live in -- I ask, how do these structures evolve? How does the social fabric unfold? Why do some parts of societies and organizations grow and evolve, while others stagnate and freeze in place?
I believe that research on rules and rule change holds the key for unlocking the mysteries of structural evolution. Rules occupy a central space in all societies and organizations. They exist in many different forms, such as bureaucracies, legal institutions, industry standards, job descriptions, technologies, rituals, routines, taboos, habits, and traditions. Rules are at the core of all social and organizational structures. It is hard to imagine a social setting in which rules do not play a role. Indeed, the recent expansion of regulation in all spheres of society (e.g., banking, transportation, education, intellectual property, natural resources, and healthcare) seems to indicate that rules will play an even more important role in the future. Understanding and predicting the evolution of rules and rule systems will become increasingly relevant in a world that is constructed from and shaped by rules.
Although rules define and construct stable structures, they also change. New rules arise, and old ones are modified or abandoned. The rules of Hamurabi were carved in stone, but today they are merely relicts in a museum. Laws change, and so do bureaucratic rules, organizational routines, and individual habits. As kernels of social order, rules are naturally tenacious (rules and rule systems tend to change slower than things around them) but they do change over time, and so do the social and organizational structures that rest on them. This means that research on rule change can lead to a deeper understanding of the evolution of social, organizational, and behavioral structures. Observing rules and studying how they change over time can lead us to new insights about the underlying processes that construct and transform the worlds we live in.
|Keywords: Organizational Learning, Organizational Knowledge, Organizational Rules, Organizational Routines, Bureaucracies, Rule Networks, Red Tape, Evolution of Laws, Decision Making, Knowledge Management, Knowledge Relevance, Multinational Corporations, Organization Theory, Organization Design, Business Process Reengineering, Mathematical Models, Quantitative Methods.|
|Schulz, Martin "The BTF Vision of Unfolding Rule Worlds", in: Journal of Management Inquiry, 2015|| LINK1 |
|This paper is essentially a manifesto for rule research. It spells out a vision for the research program on rules and rule change.|
|Schulz, Martin "Logic of Consequences and Logic of Appropriateness", in: Palgrave Encyclopedia of Strategic Management, edited by Mie Augier and David Teece, 2014.|| LINK1 |
|The two logics capture a fundamental distinction between two modes of action in organizations (and beyond). They essentially characterize the difference between deliberate and habitual action. The two logics play a central role in theories of bounded rationality and have been elaborated by the Carnegie School and a considerable number of social scientific paradigms. They provide the conceptual starting point for studies that aim to understand how cognitive mechanisms (in particular, their limitations) drive action. At the same time they represent archetypes of action that play an enormous role both in the real world and in prominent models of organizations, firms, markets, institutions, states, and societies.|
|Schulz, Martin "Limits of Bureaucratic Growth: The Density Dependence of Organizational Rule Births". Administrative Science Quarterly. Vol 43, No 4, Winter, 1998||JSTOR LINK|
|The study uses a population ecology approach to examine whether bureaucratic rules breed more rules. Hypotheses about the birth rate of bureaucratic rules are derived and tested with time series data on rule production in a large U.S. research university. Results show that the rate of rule production declines with the number of rules in a rule population over time. The results support organizational learning theories: by expanding the number of rules, organizations increasingly respond to environmental challenges in a programmed way, reducing organizational experiences with new situations, inhibiting organizational learning, and thereby eliminating a main impetus for making more rules. Radical bureaucratization theories, however, are not supported.|
|Schulz, Martin "Pathways of Relevance: Exploring Inflows of Knowledge into Subunits of Multinational Corporations." Organization Science, 2003, 14 (4): 440-459||JSTOR LINK|
|To understand what determines knowledge flows into organizational subunits, this study examines the relevance of the knowledge to the operations performed at the receiving subunit. This study analyzes inflows of knowledge from peers and supervising units into subunits of multinational corporations. It examines factors that affect the relevance of extra-unit knowledge to receiving subunits and explores empirically how these factors affect knowledge flows. The results show that knowledge travels along established ties from large knowledge bases into unspecialized, codified, locally responsive knowledge bases. The results are consistent with the view that relevance provides pathways through which new knowledge connects to prior knowledge.|
|Schulz, Martin "The Uncertain Relevance of Newness: Organizational Learning and Knowledge Flows". Academy of Management Journal, 2001, Vol 44, no 4, 661-681||JSTOR LINK|
|This study explores how organizational learning in subunits affects outflows of knowledge to other subunits. Three learning processes are explored: Collecting new knowledge, codifying knowledge, and combining old knowledge. The results suggest that collecting new knowledge intensifies vertical flows, of knowledge, that codifying knowledge facilitates horizontal and vertical flows, and that combining old knowledge mainly affects horizontal flows. More generally, the study suggests that uncertainties about the relevance of new knowledge are resolved via vertical flows, which (compared to horizontal flows) expose new knowledge faster to a wider range of remote and different knowledge and thereby facilitate faster, more comprehensive discovery of its relevance.|
|Schulz, Martin "Impermanent Institutionalization: The Duration Dependence of Organizational Rule Changes" Industrial and Corporate Change, 2003, 12 (5): 1077-1098||PROQUEST LINK|
|Organizational rules face competing pressures that can make them more or less permanent. On the one hand, pressures for reliability, legitimacy and efficiency demand unchanging rules that provide lasting guidelines for organizational action. On the other hand, changes in the environment and the imperatives of organizational growth demand timely adaptation of organizational rules. How do organizations respond to such pressures, and what are the resulting patterns of rule change? Prior explorations of this question have emphasized either (i) institutional predictions: the likelihood of rule changes should decrease with duration (waiting time between changes); or (ii) obsolescence mechanisms: the likelihood of change should increase with duration. Surprisingly, recent studies on rule change find that in some contexts the likelihood of radical rule changes ('suspensions') increases with duration, while the likelihood of incremental rule changes ('revisions') decreases. In order to explain this surprising finding, I develop simulation model that allows me to explore how rule changes are affected by organizational tolerance for obsolescence. The findings suggest that the model offers a valid explanation for the observed patterns of rule change. A main implication of this paper is that organizational rules can become impermanently institutionalized when their obsolescence is tolerated and they grow obsolete beyond repair.|
|Schulz, Martin "A Depletion of Assets Model of Organizational Learning", in: Journal of Mathematical Sociology, 1992, Vol. 17(2-3), pp. 145-173||LINK|
|This research investigates how population heterogeneity with respect to initial assets affects the rate of failure (or change) of organizations and social relationships. Organizations and social relationships are assumed to be endowed with initial assets which buffer against initial risks of failure. Failure is seen as the outcome of a process in which the assets are depleted and finally become exhausted. The core idea is that the assets of a unit become depleted through learning experiences which incur search costs and setbacks. Two settings are explored: A constant rate of depletion, and a declining rate of depletion of assets. The study explores additionally how the distribution of initial assets affects the failure rate of the population. It is found that the type of distribution of initial assets has a strong impact on the time dependence of the failure rate. A Normal distribution of initial assets leads to positive time dependence if the depletion rate is constant, and to negative time dependence if the depletion rate declines. The results show that population heterogeneity with respect to initial assets has effects on the time dependence of failure rates which are quite different from the popular case of population heterogeneity with respect to fit.|
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