Interdisciplinary Dialogues on Organizational Paradox: Learning from Belief and Science, Part A

ISBN: 978-1-80117-184-7, eISBN: 978-1-80117-183-0

ISSN: 0733-558X

Publication date: 8 July 2021


(2021), "Prelims", Bednarek, R., e Cunha, M.P., Schad, J. and Smith, W.K. (Ed.) Interdisciplinary Dialogues on Organizational Paradox: Learning from Belief and Science, Part A (Research in the Sociology of Organizations, Vol. 73a), Emerald Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. i-xxii.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2021 Emerald Publishing Limited

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Series Editor: Michael Lounsbury

Recent Volumes:

Volume 47: The Structuring of Work in Organizations
Volume 48A: How Institutions Matter!
Volume 48B: How Institutions Matter!
Volume 49: Multinational Corporations and Organization Theory: Post Millennium Perspectives
Volume 50: Emergence
Volume 51: Categories, Categorization and Categorizing: Category Studies in Sociology, Organizations and Strategy at the Crossroads
Volume 52: Justification, Evaluation and Critique in the Study of Organizations: Contributions from French Pragmatist Sociology
Volume 53: Structure, Content and Meaning of Organizational Networks: Extending Network Thinking
Volume 54A: Multimodality, Meaning, and Institutions
Volume 54B: Multimodality, Meaning, and Institutions
Volume 55: Social Movements, Stakeholders and Non-market Strategy
Volume 56: Social Movements, Stakeholders and Non-market Strategy
Volume 57: Toward Permeable Boundaries of Organizations?
Volume 58: Agents, Actors, Actorhood: Institutional Perspectives on the Nature of Agency, Action, and Authority
Volume 59: The Production of Managerial Knowledge and Organizational Theory: New Approaches to Writing, Producing and Consuming Theory
Volume 60: Race, Organizations, and the Organizing Process
Volume 61: Routine Dynamics in Action
Volume 62: Thinking Infrastructures
Volume 63: The Contested Moralities of Markets
Volume 64: Managing Inter-organizational Collaborations: Process Views
Volume 65A: Microfoundations of Institutions
Volume 65B: Microfoundations of Institutions
Volume 66: Theorizing the Sharing Economy: Variety and Trajectories of New Forms of Organizing
Volume 67: Tensions and Paradoxes in Temporary Organizing
Volume 68: Macro Foundations: Exploring the Situated Nature of Activity
Volume 69: Organizational Hybridity: Perspectives, Processes, Promises
Volume 70: On Practice and Institution: Theorizing the Interface
Volume 71: On Practice and Institution: New Empirical Directions
Volume 72: Organizational Imaginaries: Tempering Capitalism and Tending to Communities through Cooperatives and Collectivist Democracy

Advisory Board

Research in the Sociology of Organizations Advisory Board

Series Editor

  • Michael Lounsbury

  • Professor of Strategic Management & Organization

  • Canada Research Chair in Entrepreneurship & Innovation University of Alberta School of Business

RSO Advisory Board

  • Howard E. Aldrich, University of North Carolina, USA

  • Shaz Ansari, Cambridge University, UNITED KINGDOM

  • Silvia Dorado Banacloche, University of Massachusetts Boston, USA

  • Christine Beckman, University of Southern California, USA

  • Marya Besharov, Oxford University, UNITED KINGDOM

  • Eva Boxenbaum, Copenhagen Business School, Denmark

  • Ed Carberry, University of Massachusetts Boston, USA

  • Lisa Cohen, McGill University, CANADA

  • Jeannette Colyvas, Northwestern University, USA

  • Erica Coslor, University of Melbourne, AUSTRALIA

  • Gerald F. Davis, University of Michigan, USA

  • Rich Dejordy, California State University, USA

  • Rodolphe Durand, HEC Paris, FRANCE

  • Fabrizio Ferraro, IESE Business School, SPAIN

  • Peer Fiss, University of Southern California, USA

  • Mary Ann Glynn, Boston College, USA

  • Nina Granqvist, Aalto University School of Business, FINLAND

  • Royston Greenwood, University of Alberta, CANADA

  • Stine Grodal, Northeastern University, USA

  • Markus A. Hoellerer, University of New South Wales, AUSTRALIA

  • Ruthanne Huising, emlyon business school, FRANCE

  • Candace Jones, University of Edinburgh, UNITED KINGDOM

  • Sarah Kaplan, University of Toronto, CANADA

  • Brayden G. King, Northwestern University, USA

  • Matthew S. Kraatz, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA

  • Tom Lawrence, Oxford University, UNITED KINGDOM

  • Xiaowei Rose Luo, Insead, FRANCE

  • Johanna Mair, Hertie School, GERMANY

  • Christopher Marquis, Cornell University, USA

  • Renate Meyer, Vienna University, AUSTRIA

  • William Ocasio, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA

  • Nelson Phillips, Imperial College London, UNITED KINGDOM

  • Prateek Raj, Indian Institute of Management Bangalore, INDIA

  • Marc Schneiberg, Reed College, USA

  • Marc-David Seidel, University of British Columbia, CANADA

  • Paul Spee, University of Queensland, AUSTRALIA

  • Paul Tracey, Cambridge University, UNITED KINGDOM

  • Kerstin Sahlin, Uppsala University, SWEDEN

  • Sarah Soule, Stanford University, USA

  • Eero Vaara, University of Oxford, UNITED KINGDOM

  • Marc Ventresca, University of Oxford, UNITED KINGDOM

  • Maxim Voronov, York University, CANADA

  • Filippo Carlo Wezel USI Lugano, SWITZERLAND

  • Melissa Wooten, Rutgers University, USA

  • April Wright, University of Queensland, AUSTRALIA

  • Meng Zhao, Nanyang Business School & Renmin University, CHINA

  • Enying Zheng, Peking University, CHINA

  • Tammar B. Zilber, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, ISRAEL

Title Page


Interdisciplinary Dialogues on Organizational Paradox: Learning from Belief and Science, Part A



Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand


Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Portugal


King’s College London, UK



University of Delaware, USA

United Kingdom – North America – Japan – India – Malaysia – China

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Emerald Publishing Limited

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First edition 2021

Copyright © 2021 Emerald Publishing Limited

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No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, transmitted in any form or by any means electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise without either the prior written permission of the publisher or a licence permitting restricted copying issued in the UK by The Copyright Licensing Agency and in the USA by The Copyright Clearance Center. Any opinions expressed in the chapters are those of the authors. Whilst Emerald makes every effort to ensure the quality and accuracy of its content, Emerald makes no representation implied or otherwise, as to the chapters’ suitability and application and disclaims any warranties, express or implied, to their use.

British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data

A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library

ISBN: 978-1-80117-184-7 (Print)

ISBN: 978-1-80117-183-0 (Online)

ISBN: 978-1-80043-410-3 (Epub)

ISSN: 0733-558X (Series)


About the Editors ix
About the Contributors xi
List of Figures xv
List of Tables xvii
List of Contributors xix
Foreword xxi
Introduction A
The Value of Interdisciplinary Research to Advance Paradox in Organization Theory
Rebecca Bednarek, Miguel Pina e Cunha, Jonathan Schad and Wendy Smith 3
A1. Realm of Beliefs
Paradox beyond East/West Orthodoxy: The Case of Ubuntu
Medhanie Gaim and Stewart Clegg 29
The Meta-perspective of Yin-Yang Balancing: Salient Implications for Organizational Management
Peter Ping Li 51
Where We Might Least Expect to Find It: Organizing Paradoxes of Christian Theology in a Society of Organizations
Mathew L. Sheep 75
Crossing Boundaries: Connecting Religion and Paradox for Leadership and Organization Research
Ali Aslan Gümüsay 95
Commentary: Paradoxical Dimensions of Religious Experience
Jean M. Bartunek and Mary Frohlich 113
A2. Realm of Physical Systems
Paradox and Quantum Mechanics: Implications for the Management of Organizational Paradox from a Quantum Approach
Eric Knight and Tobias Hahn 129
Planetary Emergency and Paradox
Amanda Williams, Katrin Heucher and Gail Whiteman 151
Digitally Induced Industry Paradoxes: Disruptive Innovations of Taxiwork and Music Streaming beyond Organizational Boundaries
David Tilson, Carsten S⊘rensen and Kalle Lyytinen 171
Commentary: Strategies for Studying How Contradictions Unfold
Andrew H. Van de Ven 193
Index 203

About the Editors

Rebecca Bednarek is an Associate Professor at Victoria University of Wellington. She studies paradoxes and strategizing practices and has written extensively about qualitative methods. She has co-authored a research-monograph “Making a Market for Acts of God” published by Oxford University Press.

Miguel Pina e Cunha is the Fundação Amélia de Mello Professor of Leadership and Organization at Nova School of Business and Economics, Universidade Nova de Lisboa (Portugal). He studies organizational as process and paradox. He recently coauthored Elgar Introduction to Organizational Paradox Theory (Edward Elgar) and Paradoxes of Power and Leadership (Routledge).

Jonathan Schad is an Assistant Professor (‘Lecturer’) in Strategy and Organisation Theory at King’s College London, UK and an Academic Fellow of the University of Geneva, Switzerland. His research uses paradox theory to better understand the fundamental tensions contemporary organizations confront.

Wendy K. Smith is Professor and Deutsch Family Fellow at University of Delaware, USA. She explores how leaders navigate strategic paradoxes, such as tensions between exploration and exploitation or social missions and financial demands. Wendy co-edited the Oxford Handbook of Organizational Paradox. She is recognized by the Web of Science for being among the top 1% of most cited scholars in 2019 and 2020.

About the Contributors

Jean M. Bartunek holds the Ferris Chair and is a Professor of Management and Organization at Boston College, USA. She is a past President of the Academy of Management and past Dean of the Fellows of the Academy of Management. Her scholarly interests concern organizational change and academic–practitioner relationships.

Stewart Clegg, recently retired from the University of Stavanger Business School, Norway and Nova School of Business and Economics, is recognized in several fields in the social sciences for his work in organization studies and on power. He is a Prolific Writer and Contributor to journals and has also produced a large number of books, gaining several awards of note.

Mary Frohlich is a Professor of Spirituality at the Catholic Theological Union, USA. She is a past President of the Society for the Study of Christian Spirituality and is a noted scholar of Carmelite spirituality. Her research interests include contributions of the physical and human sciences to insight into spiritual transformation.

Medhanie Gaim is an Associate Professor of Management at Umeå School of Business, Economics, and Statistics, Sweden. His research focuses predominantly on paradox theory and on entrepreneurial ecosystems and new venture creation. His research has been published in journals such as Academy of Management Review, Organization Studies, and Research in the Sociology of Organizations.

Ali Aslan Gümüsay is a Senior Researcher at Universität Hamburg and Head of Research Group at the Humboldt Institute for Internet & Society. He works on values, meaning, and hybridity in entrepreneurial settings; grand challenges, innovation, and new forms of organizing; societal complexity and engaged scholarship; and digitalization, AI, and leadership.

Tobias Hahn is a Professor of Sustainability at Esade Business School in Barcelona, Spain. He has published on paradoxes and tensions in sustainability, sustainability strategies, stakeholder behavior, and sustainable performance assessment. His research has appeared in journals such as Academy of Management Review, Organization Studies, Journal of Business Ethics, and Business & Society.

Katrin Heucher is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Erb Institute, University of Michigan. She received her PhD from Loughborough University, UK. Her research lies at the intersection of sustainability management and organization studies. She uses qualitative methods such as organizational ethnography to study processes around corporate sustainability and paradox.

Eric Knight is Executive Dean and a Professor of Strategic Management at Macquarie Business School, Macquarie University, Australia. He has published on paradoxes and organizational strategy, with a particular interest in a social practices approach. His research has appeared in journals such as Academy of Management Review, Strategic Management Journal, Organization Studies, and Human Relations.

Kalle Lyytinen is a Distinguished University Professor and Iris S. Wolstein Professor of Management Design at Case Western Reserve University, and a Distinguished Visiting Professor at Aalto University, Finland (Industrial and Engineering Management). He is among the top five IS scholars in terms of his h-index (92). He has published over 400 refereed articles and edited or written over 30 books or special issues.

Peter Ping Li is Li Dak Sum Chair Professor of International Business at the University of Nottingham at Ningbo, China, and Professor of Chinese Business Studies at Copenhagen Business School, Denmark. As a thought leader about indigenous management and emerging multinationals, his primary research focuses on building geocentric (West-meeting-East) theories.

Mathew L. Sheep is an Associate Dean in the Lutgert College of Business. His research focuses on discursive perspectives of paradox and identity. He served as Associate Editor for Human Relations 2012–2019 and continues to serve on its Editorial Board.

Carsten S⊘rensen is a Reader (Associate Professor) in Digital Innovation at The London School of Economics and Political Science’s Department of Management. He has published in all the major Information Systems journals, managed large research grants, and consulted enterprises on issues related to the digital transformation of business.

David Tilson is a Clinical Professor of Information Systems and Analytics at the University of Rochester’s Simon Business School. His research primarily explores digital infrastructures and platforms. In other research streams he has explored technical standards, mobile computing, and improving operational efficiency in healthcare settings.

Andrew H. Van de Ven is a Professor Emeritus in the Carlson School of the University of Minnesota. His research has dealt with the Nominal Group Technique, organization design and assessment, inter-organizational relationships, organizational innovation, change and paradox, and engaged scholarship research methods. During 2000–2001 he was President of the Academy of Management, and he was Founding Editor of Academy of Management Discoveries (2012–2017).

Gail Whiteman is a Professor-in-Residence at the World Business Council for Sustainable Development and Professor of Sustainability at the University of Exeter Business School, UK. Her research analyzes how actors make sense of complex problems and build resilience across scales. She is the Founder of Arctic Basecamp, a science-solutions communication platform at the World Economic Forum.

Amanda Williams is a Senior Researcher at ETH Zurich, Switzerland in the Group for Sustainability and Technology. She received her PhD from Rotterdam School of Management, the Netherlands. Her research focuses on corporate sustainability, social-ecological systems, and resilience.

List of Figures

Chapter 1 Fig. 1.1. The Interrelated Features of Ubuntu. 38
Chapter 2 Fig. 2.1. The Structures of Yin-Yang Balancing with Black, White and Gray Areas. 63
Fig. 2.2. The Holistic and Dynamic Process of Yin-Yang Balancing with the Stages and Thresholds at Multiple Levels for Structural Changes. 65
Chapter 4 Fig. 4.1. Expanding Outer Boundaries. 101
Fig. 4.2. Dynamizing Inner Boundaries. 105
Fig. 4.3. Shifting Boundaries. 106
Chapter 6 Fig. 6.1. The Planetary Boundaries Framework. 154
Fig. 6.2a. Nested Systems Perspective of the Planetary Emergency with Inherent Paradoxes Across Economic, Social, and Environmental Dimensions. 158
Fig. 6.2b. Salient Shock Related to the Planetary Emergency with Latent Issues in the Background. 160
Fig. 6.2c. A Series of Shocks Related to the Planetary Emergency Over Time. 161
Fig. 6.3. A Framework for Navigating Paradoxical Tensions under Planetary Emergency Conditions. 163
Commentary 2 Fig. C2.1. Approaches to Managing Contradiction. 197

List of Tables

Introduction Table I.1. The Realm of Belief to Inform Paradox Theory. 11
Table I.2. The Realm of Physical Systems to Inform Paradox Theory. 13
Table I.3. The Realm of Social Structures to Inform Paradox Theory. 15
Table I.4 The Realm of Expression to Inform Paradox Theory. 17
Chapter 1 Table 1.1. Key Features and Differences in Approach. 40
Chapter 2 Table 2.1. The Similarities and Distinctions Between Three Core Epistemological Systems. 58
Table 2.2. The Three Systems for Paradox Management with Selected Illustrations. 59
Commentary 1 Table C1.1. Treatments of Religion-related Paradox. 121
Chapter 5 Table 5.1. Different Management Approaches to Organizational Paradox. 145

List of Contributors

Jean M. Bartunek Boston College, USA
Rebecca Bednarek Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand
Stewart Clegg University of Stavanger, Norway and Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Portugal
Mary Frohlich Catholic Theological Union, USA
Medhanie Gaim Umeå University, Sweden
Ali Aslan Gümüsay Universität Hamburg, Germany
Tobias Hahn Universitat Ramon Llull, Esade Business School, Spain
Katrin Heucher University of Michigan, USA
Eric Knight Macquarie University, Australia
Kalle Lyytinen Case Western Reserve University, USA
Miguel Pina e Cunha Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Portugal
Peter Ping Li University of Nottingham at Ningbo, China
Jonathan Schad King’s College London, UK
Mathew L. Sheep Florida Gulf Coast University USA
Wendy Smith University of Delaware, USA
Carsten S⊘rensen London School of Economics and Political Science, UK
David Tilson University of Rochester, USA
Andrew H. Van de Ven University of Minnesota, USA
Gail Whiteman University of Exeter, UK
Amanda Williams ETH Zurich, Switzerland


Research in the Sociology of Organizations (RSO) publishes cutting edge empirical research and theoretical papers that seek to enhance our understanding of organizations and organizing as pervasive and fundamental aspects of society and economy. We seek provocative papers that push the frontiers of current conversations, that help to revive old ones, or that incubate and develop new perspectives. Given its successes in this regard, RSO has become an impactful and indispensable fount of knowledge for scholars interested in organizational phenomena and theories. RSO is indexed and ranks highly in Scopus/SCImago as well as in the Academic Journal Guide published by the Chartered Association of Business schools.

As one of the most vibrant areas in the social sciences, the sociology of organizations engages a plurality of empirical and theoretical approaches to enhance our understanding of the varied imperatives and challenges that these organizations and their organizers face. Of course, there is a diversity of formal and informal organizations – from for-profit entities to non-profits, state and public agencies, social enterprises, communal forms of organizing, non-governmental associations, trade associations, publicly traded, family owned and managed, private firms – the list goes on! Organizations, moreover, can vary dramatically in size from small entrepreneurial ventures to large multinational conglomerates to international governing bodies such as the United Nations.

Empirical topics addressed by RSO include: the formation, survival, and growth or organizations; collaboration and competition between organizations; the accumulation and management of resources and legitimacy; and how organizations or organizing efforts cope with a multitude of internal and external challenges and pressures. Particular interest is growing in the complexities of contemporary organizations as they cope with changing social expectations and as they seek to address societal problems related to corporate social responsibility, inequality, corruption and wrongdoing, and the challenge of new technologies. As a result, levels of analysis reach from the individual, to the organization, industry, community and field, and even the nation-state or world society. Much research is multilevel and embraces both qualitative and quantitative forms of data.

Diverse theory is employed or constructed to enhance our understanding of these topics. While anchored in the discipline of sociology and the field of management, RSO also welcomes theoretical engagement that draws on other disciplinary conversations – such as those in political science or economics, as well as work from diverse philosophical traditions. RSO scholarship has helped push forward a plethora theoretical conversations on institutions and institutional change, networks, practice, culture, power, inequality, social movements, categories, routines, organization design and change, configurational dynamics and many other topics.

Each volume of RSO tends to be thematically focused on a particular empirical phenomenon (e.g., creative industries, multinational corporations, entrepreneurship) or theoretical conversation (e.g., institutional logics, actors and agency, and microfoundations). The series publishes papers by junior as well as leading international scholars, and embraces diversity on all dimensions. If you are scholar interested in organizations or organizing, I hope you find RSO to be an invaluable resource as you develop your work.

Professor Michael Lounsbury

Series Editor, Research in the Sociology of Organizations

Canada Research Chair in Entrepreneurship & Innovation

University of Alberta