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The Historical Embeddedness of Organizational Paradoxes: Risk-related Rituals and Realities in Emergency Management

Interdisciplinary Dialogues on Organizational Paradox: Investigating Social Structures and Human Expression, Part B

ISBN: 978-1-80117-187-8, eISBN: 978-1-80117-186-1

Publication date: 8 July 2021

Abstract

Paradoxes are historically embedded in institutions and organizations. Latent paradoxes pose danger if they become salient; sociological analyses can identify historically embedded latent paradoxes. The emergency management paradox, in which the state invests vast resources, establishing formidable organizational arrangements that rely on knowledge to respond to unanticipated events in advance of their occurrence, even though such events can only ever be known after they occur, is a paradox of this kind. Deploying methodological “dual integrity” we trace through historical description and sociological conceptualization the institutional and organizational history of the emergency management paradox in Australia, where uncontrollable bushfires are becoming increasingly common, before drawing more general conclusions about how a response to grand challenges, such as climate change, demands an interdisciplinary understanding of the rituals and realities of paradoxes that emerge historically from our collective attempts to handle uncertainty via risk. Our research serves as a warning of the grave consequences that can result from ignoring a paradox’s history, whether intentionally or unwittingly.

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Acknowledgements

Acknowledgments

The research on which this manuscript is based was initially supported by an Australian Postgraduate Award and has benefited substantially from the careful guidance of Graham Sewell. Subsequent revisions to the manuscript have been further guided by excellent editorial comments from Rebecca Bednarek and Wendy Smith. We have been fortunate to have had their contributions.

Citation

Pierides, D., Clegg, S. and e Cunha, M.P. (2021), "The Historical Embeddedness of Organizational Paradoxes: Risk-related Rituals and Realities in Emergency Management", Bednarek, R., e Cunha, M.P., Schad, J. and Smith, W.K. (Ed.) Interdisciplinary Dialogues on Organizational Paradox: Investigating Social Structures and Human Expression, Part B (Research in the Sociology of Organizations, Vol. 73b), Emerald Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 65-85. https://doi.org/10.1108/S0733-558X2021000073b006

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

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