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22: The Dynamics of Rules and Attention (Martin Schulz)

Updated: 16 hours ago

Prerecorded session

Live session

Required readings

Schulz, Martin & Zhu, Kejia (2022). “Learning by Connecting: How Rule Networks Evolve Through Discovery of Relevance”, Organization Science 33.5: 2018-2040.

Schulz, M. (2016). Logic of Consequences and Logic of Appropriateness. In: Augier, M., Teece, D. (eds) The Palgrave Encyclopedia of Strategic Management. Palgrave Macmillan, London.

Schulz, Martin (1998). “Limits of Bureaucratic Growth: The Density Dependence of Organizational Rule Births”. Administrative Science Quarterly. Vol 43, No 4, Winter, 1998

Discussion questions

A social theory of rules and attention could potentially produce a deeper and sharper explanation of social order and social evolution. An important part of such a theory would be a clear articulation of the interplay between rules and attention. That is, how do rules affect the attention of actors and how does attention affect rule change?

1) Pick a case of a rule (or a rule population), e.g., traffic rules of a neighborhood, organizational rules for reimbursement of expenses, rules of a game, Covid-related rules, job descriptions, promotion and tenure rules, restaurant scripts, etc.

• Optionally: collect observations of rule changes and information about how and why they got changed.

2) How do the rules affect the attention of actors?

• Start with Carnegie-School conceptions of organizations as attention systems and their extensions in the ABV

- How do the rules, in your case, shape attention?

- How do the rules shape the context for attention and action?

• Consider direct and indirect effects (e.g., hearsay, learning from others).

- Are signals involved? Are rules connected to other rules?

- Rules can be ignored or circumvented. When are rules less likely to be ignored?

3) How does attention affect the change of the rule(s)?

• How does attention to rules, experiences, problems affect the change of rules?

• Consider how attention plays a role in interpreting outcomes and noticing problems related to the rule (Problem recognition)

• How do the limitations of attention shape rule change processes?

• Consider attention shifts, mobilization of attention, attention cascades, competition for attention, diffusion of attention

• Consider attention of rule makers versus attention of audiences (rule followers, subjects, activists) on rule change

4) Develop ideas about causal relationships (review relevant work), develop hypotheses, and propose a research design.

Group members

Faculty advisors

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