Philosophy of Management

, Volume 17, Issue 3, pp 279–301 | Cite as

Agency, Desire, and Changing Organizational Routines

  • Caleb Bernacchio


Feldman (Organization Science 11(6): 611–629, 2000) describes the striving mechanism as a mode of routine change driven by successful organizational routines. Striving describes a process by which organization members gain a better understanding of the ideals undergirding their actions. In turn, this insight drives changes within routines. In this paper, I argue that the rational actor model, especially as articulated in Donald Davidson’s (1963) theory of action, is unable to account for the striving mechanism of endogenous routine change identified by Feldman (Organization Science 11(6): 611–629, 2000). Drawing upon Brewer’s (2011) criticisms of propositional theories of desire, the account of meta-language intentional attitudes developed by List and Pettit (2011), and MacIntyre’s (2007) theory of social practices, I introduce an expanded framework for conceptualizing agency at the individual level, and aggregation at the organization level, that better accounts for the striving mechanism as a process of endogenous routine change.


Practices Routines Organizational change Action theory 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

On behalf of all authors, the corresponding author states that there is no conflict of interest.


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© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.IESE Business School – Barcelona CampusBarcelonaSpain

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