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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

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

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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…

Abstract

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

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Book part
Publication date: 7 December 2020

Wendy K. Smith and Miguel Pina e Cunha

Scholars increasingly depict hybridity as pervasive across organizations. The authors offer insight about how paradox theory informs and expands this approach to…

Abstract

Scholars increasingly depict hybridity as pervasive across organizations. The authors offer insight about how paradox theory informs and expands this approach to hybridity. To do so, the authors do a deeper dive into paradox theory, comparing and contrasting a dynamic equilibrium approach with a permanent dialectics approach. Integrating these two approaches offers paradox theory insights that can enrich and expand hybridity scholarship. The authors offer suggestions for how paradox theory can help develop a future research agenda for organizational hybridity.

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Organizational Hybridity: Perspectives, Processes, Promises
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-83909-355-5

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Article
Publication date: 12 March 2020

Ronit Nadiv and Shani Kuna

Accumulated evidence suggests that efforts at diversity management (DM) yield mixed results or even fail in terms of promoting workforce diversity. Previous scholarly…

Abstract

Purpose

Accumulated evidence suggests that efforts at diversity management (DM) yield mixed results or even fail in terms of promoting workforce diversity. Previous scholarly attempts to explain the mixed results of DM initiatives provided only partial understanding. This study applies a paradox perspective to better understand the challenges of DM from the vantage point of diversity managers, who play a central role in the promotion and implementation of diversity initiatives.

Design/methodology/approach

In-depth interviews with diversity managers in large business organizations in Israel explored practitioners' conceptions of the challenges underlying the implementation of diversity initiatives. A grounded theory approach was utilized.

Findings

The findings reveal the emergence of paradox: diversity initiatives generate organizational tensions that undermine their success and hence amplify the need for further diversity interventions. Three distinct paradoxes are identified: necessary change vs desire for stability; bureaucratic control vs flexible procedures; and long-term business gains vs short-term losses. Diversity managers utilize two opposing strategies to contend with these paradoxes.

Research limitations/implications

This study does not represent voices of diverse employees or of top executives. The data focused on mid-level practitioners' descriptions of DM challenges and their methods of contending with them.

Practical implications

The findings shed light on an effective strategy of contending with paradox. Recognizing paradox and navigating it properly may greatly advance the success of costly DM change interventions. Implications are suggested regarding the academic education and training of DM practitioners.

Originality/value

Based on the paradox framework, which offers a novel vantage point for understanding the challenges of implementing DM, the findings contribute to the scholarly understanding of the limited success of DM interventions.

Details

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion: An International Journal, vol. 39 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2040-7149

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Article
Publication date: 3 October 2016

Runtian Jing and Andrew H. Van de Ven

The purpose of this paper is to discuss the theoretical contribution of Li’s (2016) “Yin-Yang balancing” approach of paradox management, as well as its future development…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to discuss the theoretical contribution of Li’s (2016) “Yin-Yang balancing” approach of paradox management, as well as its future development to guide paradox management research across the east and west contexts.

Design/methodology/approach

It begins by recognizing the importance of paradox management research, especially the indigenous epistemological approach as Li (2016) has followed. The authors take “being” and “becoming” ontology toward social reality as the basic premise in this commentary, and summarize the knowledge that the study has contributed to existing literature.

Findings

The “Yin-Yang balancing” approach can extend the knowledge about paradox management phenomena at least from four aspects: the “either/and” frame to view a paradox system, the importance of “seed” or “threshold” in defining moderate rather than extreme groups, duality map as a novel tool for paradox management, and comparison of being and becoming ontology.

Originality/value

Based on the comparison of “being” and “becoming” ontological view, the authors suggest to further develop this “Yin-Yang balancing” approach by emphasizing the following issues: eastern culture does not have exclusive ownership of the “becoming” ontology toward the world, elaboration of alternative theoretical explanation to win out the identity approach about organizational existence, the linkage between the “Yin-Yang balancing” epistemological system and process research method, and boundary condition of the “Yin-Yang balancing” approach.

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Cross Cultural & Strategic Management, vol. 23 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2059-5794

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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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Article
Publication date: 15 November 2017

Dagmar Daubner-Siva, Claartje J. Vinkenburg and Paul G.W. Jansen

The purpose of this paper is to adopt a paradox lens for dovetailing the human resource management sub-domains of talent management (TM) and diversity management (DM), in…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to adopt a paradox lens for dovetailing the human resource management sub-domains of talent management (TM) and diversity management (DM), in the attempt to create closer alignment between the two.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors review paradox theory, TM and DM literatures and formulate a paradox that becomes apparent when considering TM and DM simultaneously.

Findings

The authors coin this tension as the “exclusion-inclusion paradox,” highlighting that TM and DM reflect contradictory, yet interrelated principles: organizations promote exclusion through a TM architecture that focuses on the identification and development of a few selected employees, while simultaneously, organizations promote inclusion, in the attempt to minimize existing inequalities for traditionally marginalized groups.

Practical implications

Once uncovered, the exclusion-inclusion paradox enables organizational actors to make choices on whether to respond actively or defensively to the paradox. The authors argue for active responses in order to work through the paradox.

Originality/value

This is the first paper adopting a paradox lens in order to interweave the DM literature with TM literature in the attempt to explain how DM and TM constitute contradicting yet interrelated principles.

Details

Journal of Organizational Effectiveness: People and Performance, vol. 4 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2051-6614

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Article
Publication date: 4 October 2011

Sirkka L. Jarvenpaa and Alina Wernick

This paper aims to advance the paradox management perspective by applying it to open innovation networks in Finland and argues that paradox management is an important…

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to advance the paradox management perspective by applying it to open innovation networks in Finland and argues that paradox management is an important explicit logic to consider in the management of open innovation.

Design/methodology approach

Interviews sought the views of diverse network participants, including companies, universities, and government agencies.

Findings

The open innovation networks exhibited many of the same tensions discussed in innovation initiatives within organizations, but additional complexities arose from both internal and external factors.

Research limitations/implications

The study examined open innovation networks when the collaboration in the networks was still in early phases. Thus, the study does not capture the paradoxes, underlying tensions, and management approaches as they change in later phases.

Practical implications

The open innovation networks require the ability to excel in managing a set of paradoxical tensions using a complex repertoire of approaches. Open innovation can be seen as an important way to create dynamicity and change, and if managers are able to manage tensions using a complex set of behavioral approaches, they can more likely achieve increased innovation.

Originality/value

The open innovation literature recognizes paradoxes but does not address their management directly. This paper deepens the understanding of paradoxical tensions and their management across open innovation networks that take the form of public‐private partnerships.

Details

European Journal of Innovation Management, vol. 14 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1460-1060

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Article
Publication date: 9 February 2010

James M. Bloodgood and Bongsug (Kevin) Chae

The primary purpose of this paper is to demonstrate the importance of viewing paradoxes, which are commonly‐accepted logical perspectives that appear contradictory, as…

Abstract

Purpose

The primary purpose of this paper is to demonstrate the importance of viewing paradoxes, which are commonly‐accepted logical perspectives that appear contradictory, as being useful for organizational learning and to show why organizational paradoxes need to be managed integratively.

Design/methodology/approach

The cultural industries (those that promote art, music and entertainment) are used as a backdrop for developing propositions that explain the benefits of dynamically shifting between poles of a paradox and the relationship between elements of managing multiple paradoxes integratively and organizational outcomes.

Findings

It is expected that organizations which move between the poles of paradoxes are more likely to increase organizational knowledge about their capabilities and to enhance their ability to deal with paradoxes.

Research limitations/implications

Organizational researchers should consider identifying the direction and rate of movement along the poles of paradoxes by organizations when studying the appropriateness of various organizational methods for achieving outcomes such as growth or performance. Future research should examine a larger variety of paradoxes in order to increase understanding of the appropriateness of their integrative management.

Practical implications

Managers should become familiar with the speed and direction of movement (organizational change) between the poles of organizational paradoxes before making operational and strategic decisions. In addition, managers should be cognizant of the variety of paradoxes present in their organization and of the need for their integrative management.

Originality/value

The paper describes how movement along the poles of organizational paradox enhances organizational learning, as well as the importance of managing organizational paradoxes integratively.

Details

Management Decision, vol. 48 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0025-1747

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