This paper seeks to provide a critical review of the theoretical conception and practical implications of the notion of mindfulness (introduced to organization theory by Karl Weick and colleagues). As this concept aims at clarifying the mechanisms of knowledge creation and knowledge re‐configuration, the notion of mindfulness is used and refined to contribute to explaining some of the micro‐foundations of dynamic capabilities. Thus, the paper aims to show how putting “new wine” (mindfulness) into “old bottles” (dynamic capabilities) can add to the clarification of the nature and development of dynamic capabilities.
The paper explores and reviews the literature on mindfulness as well as dynamic capabilities and engages in conceptual development based on this literature. Based on this literature review, propositions are developed that regard mindfulness as a micro‐foundation of dynamic capabilities.
It is shown that the literature neglects opportunistic behaviour, issues of power, and self‐contradictory aspects of the principles for mindful organizing. It is argued that mindfulness should neither be understood as an attribute of an entity nor be simply contrasted with routine, but should rather be depicted as a medium and outcome of social practices which involves enacting power and drawing pre‐reflectively on a background that is built up by routines. Five propositions describe how such a refined understanding of mindfulness can contribute to explaining the micro‐foundations of dynamic capabilities such as “sensing opportunities and threats”, “seizing opportunities”, and “reconfiguring a company's assets”.
While there are apparent parallels between the notion of mindfulness and the concept of dynamic capabilities, there are also some notable differences. The discussion of dynamic capability puts more emphasis on routines that introduce instability and ambiguity rather than coping with (externally posed) the unexpected. As a consequence, the propositions regarding the relation between mindfulness and dynamic capabilities should be further elaborated and validated or refuted empirically.
First, the paper delineates the limits of (organizing for) mindfulness which has been applied quite uncritically by organization scholars. Second, it derives five propositions that highlight previously neglected mechanisms of how dynamic capabilities develop, therefore adding to one's understanding of the micro‐foundations of dynamic capabilities.
Gärtner, C. (2011), "Putting new wine into old bottles: Mindfulness as a micro‐foundation of dynamic capabilities", Management Decision, Vol. 49 No. 2, pp. 253-269. https://doi.org/10.1108/00251741111109142Download as .RIS
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