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Book part
Publication date: 8 July 2021

Rebecca Bednarek, Miguel Pina e Cunha, Jonathan Schad and Wendy Smith

Over the past decades, scholars advanced foundational insights about paradox in organization theory. In this double volume, we seek to expand upon these insights through…

Abstract

Over the past decades, scholars advanced foundational insights about paradox in organization theory. In this double volume, we seek to expand upon these insights through interdisciplinary theorizing. We do so for two reasons. First, we think that now is a moment to build on those foundations toward richer, more complex insights by learning from disciplines outside of organization theory. Second, as our world increasingly faces grand challenges, scholars turn to paradox theory. Yet as the challenges become more complex, authors turn to other disciplines to ensure the requisite complexity of our own theories. To advance these goals, we invited scholars with knowledge in paradox theory to explore how these ideas could be expanded by outside disciplines. This provides a both/and opportunity for paradox theory: both learning from outside disciplines beyond existing boundaries and enriching our insights in organization scholarship. The result is an impressive collection of papers about paradox theory that draws from four outside realms – the realm of belief, the realm of physical systems, the realm of social structures, and the realm of expression. In this introduction, we expand on why paradox theory is ripe for interdisciplinary theorizing, explore the benefits of doing so, and introduce the papers in this double volume.

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Interdisciplinary Dialogues on Organizational Paradox: Learning from Belief and Science, Part A
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-80117-184-7

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Book part
Publication date: 8 July 2021

Rebecca Bednarek, Miguel Pina e Cunha, Jonathan Schad and Wendy K. Smith

Interdisciplinary research allows us to broaden our sights and expand our theories. Yet, such research surfaces a number of challenges. We highlight three issues  

Abstract

Interdisciplinary research allows us to broaden our sights and expand our theories. Yet, such research surfaces a number of challenges. We highlight three issues – superficiality, lack of focus, and consilience - and discuss how they can be addressed in interdisciplinary research. In particular, we focus on the implications for interdisciplinary work with paradox scholarship. We explore how these issues can be navigated as scholars bring together different epistemologies, ontologies and methodologies within interdisciplinary research, and illustrate our key points by drawing on extant work in paradox theory and on examples from this double volume. Our paper contributes to paradox scholarship, and to organizational theory more broadly, by offering practices about how to implement interdisciplinary research while also advancing our understanding about available research methods.

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Interdisciplinary Dialogues on Organizational Paradox: Investigating Social Structures and Human Expression, Part B
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-80117-187-8

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Book part
Publication date: 8 July 2021

Rebecca Bednarek, Marianne W. Lewis and Jonathan Schad

Early paradox research in organization theory contained a remarkable breadth of inspirations from outside disciplines. We wanted to know more about where early scholarship…

Abstract

Early paradox research in organization theory contained a remarkable breadth of inspirations from outside disciplines. We wanted to know more about where early scholarship found inspiration to create what has since become paradox theory. To shed light on this, we engaged seminal paradox scholars in conversations: asking about their past experiences drawing from outside disciplines and their views on the future of paradox theory. These conversations surfaced several themes of past and future inspirations: (1) understanding complex phenomena; (2) drawing from related disciplines; (3) combining interdisciplinary insights; and (4) bridging discourses in organization theory. We end the piece with suggestions for future paradox research inspired by these conversations.

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Interdisciplinary Dialogues on Organizational Paradox: Investigating Social Structures and Human Expression, Part B
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-80117-187-8

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Book part
Publication date: 8 July 2021

Ali Aslan Gümüsay

This chapter engages with both religion and paradox in leadership and organization research by focusing on three sources of paradoxical tensions and how they are shaped by…

Abstract

This chapter engages with both religion and paradox in leadership and organization research by focusing on three sources of paradoxical tensions and how they are shaped by religion: worldly limits, diverse interpretations, and emerging relationships. First, regarding worldly limits, religion is predicated on an additional “very macro” level of reality, transcendence. This belief offers a distinct way of engaging with paradoxes as it extends the worldly realm’s boundaries. Second, contradictory interpretations of religions may rise, even among members of the same faith, leading to new cognitive paradoxes. Dynamizing boundaries between contradictory elements may allow organizations to maintain unity in a diversity of interpretations. Third, concerning emerging relationships, religions are global phenomena that are experienced side by side in multiple societal terrains. They cut across diverse social systems and give rise to novel relationships. This creates new tensions and paradoxical encounters, as religions traverse borders and boundaries and encounter existing social beliefs, structures, and practices. The expansion, dynamization, and shifting of boundaries then shapes persistent contradictions among interdependent elements. Our field should appreciate and embrace conflicting mysteries and paradoxes across boundaries. We may only need some faith.

Details

Interdisciplinary Dialogues on Organizational Paradox: Learning from Belief and Science, Part A
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-80117-184-7

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Book part
Publication date: 8 July 2021

David Seidl, Jane Lê and Paula Jarzabkowski

This chapter introduces two core notions from Niklas Luhmann’s social systems theory to paradox studies. Specifically, it offers the notions of decision paradox and…

Abstract

This chapter introduces two core notions from Niklas Luhmann’s social systems theory to paradox studies. Specifically, it offers the notions of decision paradox and deparadoxization as potential generative theoretical devices for paradox scholars. Drawing on these devices, the paper shifts focus to the everyday and mundane nature of decision paradox and the important role of deparadoxization (i.e., generating latency) in working through paradox. This contribution comes at a critical juncture for paradox scholarship, which has begun to converge around core theories, by opening up additional and possibly alternative theoretical pathways for understanding paradox. These ideas respond to recent calls in the literature to widen our theoretical repertoire and align scholarship more closely with the rich, pluralistic traditions of paradox studies.

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Interdisciplinary Dialogues on Organizational Paradox: Investigating Social Structures and Human Expression, Part B
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-80117-187-8

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Book part
Publication date: 8 July 2021

Peter Ping Li

The author argues and explains that the indigenous Eastern epistemological frame of yin-yang balancing can be taken as a unique system of thinking toward a…

Abstract

The author argues and explains that the indigenous Eastern epistemological frame of yin-yang balancing can be taken as a unique system of thinking toward a meta-perspective. It is not only deeply rooted in the indigenous Eastern culture traditions, but also bears salient global implications, especially in the domain of paradox management. The purpose and contribution of this chapter are twofold: (1) to explain the unique and salient features of yin-yang balancing (the “either/and” system to reframe paradox into duality as partially conflicting and partially complementary, both spatially and temporarily) as compared with the Western logic systems (the “either/or” and “both/or” or “both/and” systems); and (2) to explore the global implications of the “either/and” system for future paradox research, including the three unique themes of overlap between opposites with the “seed” of one opposite inside the other; threshold from the contingent balance between partial separation and partial integration in line with specific contexts through three operating mechanisms, and knot for the special role of third-party to shift paradox from a dyadic level to a triadic and even a multiplex level.

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Interdisciplinary Dialogues on Organizational Paradox: Learning from Belief and Science, Part A
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-80117-184-7

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Book part
Publication date: 8 July 2021

Andrew H. Van de Ven

Based on a review of selected chapters in this volume, this commentary examines how latent and salient contradictions unfold over time, and how perceptions and relative…

Abstract

Based on a review of selected chapters in this volume, this commentary examines how latent and salient contradictions unfold over time, and how perceptions and relative power of the parties involved may produce paradoxical and non-paradoxical outcomes. The empirical chapters also call attention to the need to expand the agenda of paradox scholarship to address the greater paradoxical complexities observed in organizational life.

Details

Interdisciplinary Dialogues on Organizational Paradox: Learning from Belief and Science, Part A
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-80117-184-7

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Book part
Publication date: 8 July 2021

Joshua Keller and Ping Tian

The way organizational actors use language to think about and communicate their organizational experiences is central to how organizational actors enact organizational…

Abstract

The way organizational actors use language to think about and communicate their organizational experiences is central to how organizational actors enact organizational paradox. However, most inquiries into the role of language in the organizational paradox literature has focused on specific components of language (e.g., discourse), without attention to the complex, multi-level linguistic system that is interconnected to organizational processes. In this chapter, we expand our knowledge of the role of language by integrating paradox research with research from the linguistics discipline. We identify a series of linguistic tensions (i.e., generalizability-specificity, universalism-particularism, and explicitness-implicitness) that are nested within organizational paradoxes. In the process, we reveal how the organizing paradox of control and autonomy is interconnected to other paradoxes (i.e., performing, learning, and belonging) through the instantiation of linguistic paradoxes. We discuss the implications of our findings for research on paradox and language.

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Interdisciplinary Dialogues on Organizational Paradox: Investigating Social Structures and Human Expression, Part B
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-80117-187-8

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Book part
Publication date: 8 July 2021

Medhanie Gaim and Stewart Clegg

That life is inundated with constant push–pull between contradictory demands is indisputable. Different traditions and worldviews inform individuals’ approaches to dealing…

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That life is inundated with constant push–pull between contradictory demands is indisputable. Different traditions and worldviews inform individuals’ approaches to dealing with the ensuing paradoxes. However, the literature has focused on Western and Eastern philosophies and traditions, while disregarding others such as the Afrocentric. In this chapter, the authors explore Ubuntu, an Afrocentric tradition, as an alternative philosophical underpinning that can inform the nature of paradoxes. Doing so enriches the understanding, problematizing and managing of paradoxes. Central to Ubuntu is otherness: the emphasis on the need of the other that implies focusing on the other; in doing so, the polarities of diverse needs are accommodated, striving for an ultimate goal of harmony. Moreover, the authors elaborate on the hybrid space where collapsing the East–West and the West and non-west dualism allow engagement with a multiplicity of worldviews. In so doing, the authors expand paradox theorizing beyond the orthodoxy of East and West antinomies and challenge the basic assumption in paradox management by asking the question: what if we start from others’ demands?

Details

Interdisciplinary Dialogues on Organizational Paradox: Learning from Belief and Science, Part A
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-80117-184-7

Keywords

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Book part
Publication date: 8 July 2021

Eric Knight and Tobias Hahn

Organizational paradoxes must first be recognized by managers before they can respond to them. Yet scholars have adopted different perspectives on how paradoxical tensions…

Abstract

Organizational paradoxes must first be recognized by managers before they can respond to them. Yet scholars have adopted different perspectives on how paradoxical tensions become salient and engender management responses. Some approaches have focused on the socially constituted nature of paradoxes, and others on the inherent aspects of paradoxes in the environment. The authors propose an approach that gives ontological meaning to both the socially constituted and inherent nature of organizational paradoxes. Our approach, which is inspired by quantum physics, opens up new opportunities for engaging with the socio-materiality of paradoxes, how they are measured, and the implications this has on the probabilities of managing organizational responses to paradox.

Details

Interdisciplinary Dialogues on Organizational Paradox: Learning from Belief and Science, Part A
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-80117-184-7

Keywords

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