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Dynamic Capability Seen through a Duality–Paradox Lens: A Case of Radical Innovation at Microsoft

Research in Organizational Change and Development

ISBN: 978-1-78350-311-7, eISBN: 978-1-78350-312-4

ISSN: 0897-3016

Publication date: 23 July 2014


This article brings a new, broad conceptual framework to the quest for understanding dynamic capability in organizations (i.e., “managing on the edge of chaos”). This approach rests on two major ideas: (i) a duality–paradox perspective and (ii) new typologies of organizational learning (OL) and individual action/thinking. A case of radical innovation at Microsoft provides a multilevel stimulus. Understanding it requires a focus on two dualistic challenges. For use in future ODC research and practical assessment, this broad new conceptual framework includes: (i) collaboration as a central concept; (ii) duality–paradox as a key source of conflicts that can threaten collaboration; (iii) five types of OL, (iv) four types of individual action/thinking, including paradoxical thinking, and (v) the proposition that “golden dualities” can be created from once-troubling duality situations (where critical collaboration was in danger) which have been transformed from the metaphorical “odd (contentious) couple” into a “productive (collaborative) partnership.”



I acknowledge with gratitude the recent help of Michael Beer, Brenda Bond, John Carroll, Gail Elson, David King, Shaun McNiff, Phil Mirvis, Debra Noumar, Abraham Shani, and Dick Woodman in preparing this article. And I appreciate from long ago the contribution of the late Irving Goldaber who taught me about CM when we worked together in the mid-1970s to organize community violence prevention efforts in the context of conflict over court-ordered school busing for desegregation in the United States.


Sugarman, B. (2014), "Dynamic Capability Seen through a Duality–Paradox Lens: A Case of Radical Innovation at Microsoft", Research in Organizational Change and Development (Research in Organizational Change and Development, Vol. 22), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 141-189.



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