Advertisement

The Paradox Types: Tensions in Organizing, Performance, Belonging, and Learning

  • Jan Heiberg Johansen
Chapter

Abstract

This chapter will specify a typology of organizational paradoxes that may arise in the organization. Paradoxes are manifestations of embedded contradictions and they have the potential both to destruct and support the creation of value. They comprise organizing, performance, belonging, and learning paradoxes, and they are often experienced as knots of opposites. The chapter is structured around the four paradox types.

Paradoxes consist of conflicting and interdependent opposites in the organization. These are the types or clusters of paradoxes that have been evidenced in the thousands of organizations investigated in the paradox literature. They are sometimes labeled with different names and some studies find only some of them. The most common names are used here.

Keywords

The paradox typology Tensions in organizing performance belonging and learning Paradoxes produce devastating and constructive outcomes 

Bibliography

  1. Apker, J. (2004). Sensemaking of Change in the Managed Care Era: A Case of Hospital-Based Nurses. Journal of Organizational Change Management, 17(2), 211–227.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Besharov, M. L. (2014). The Relational Ecology of Identification: How Organizational Identification Emerges When Individuals Hold Divergent Values. Academy of Management Journal, 57(5), 1485–1512.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Besharov, M. L., & Sharma, G. (2017). Paradoxes of Organizational Identity. In W. K. Smith, M. W. Lewis, P. Jarzabkowski, & A. Langley (Eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Organizational Paradox. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  4. Boiral, O. (2003). ISO 9000: Outside the Iron Cage. Organization Science, 14(6), 720–737.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bouchikhi, H. (1998). Living with and Building on Complexity: A Constructivist Perspective on Organizations. Organization, 5(2), 217–232.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Cameron, K., & Quinn, R. (2011). Diagnosing and Changing Organizational Culture. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
  7. Clegg, S. R., Kornberger, M., & Rhodes, C. (2005). Learning/Becoming/Organizing. Organization, 12(2), 147–167.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Collins, J. (2001). Good to Great. New York: Random House Books.Google Scholar
  9. Cooper, R. (1986). Organization/Disorganization. Social Science Information, 25(2), 299–335.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Crossan, M., Cunha, M. P., Vera, D., & Cunha, J. (2005). Time and Organizational Improvisation. Academy of Management Review, 30(1), 129–145.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Cunha, M.P. (2004). Organizational Time: A Dialectical View. Organization, 11(2), 271–296.Google Scholar
  12. Cunha, M. P., Giustiniano, L., Rego, A., & Clegg, S. (2016). Mission Impossible? The Paradoxes of Stretch Goal Setting. Management Learning, 48, 140–157.Google Scholar
  13. Dameron, S., & Torset, C. (2014). The Discursive Construction of Strategists’ Subjectivities: Towards a Paradox Lens on Strategy. Journal of Management Studies, 51(2), 291–319.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Denis, J.-L., Langley, A., & Sergi, V. (2012). Leadership in the Plural. The Academy of Management Annals, 6(1), 211–283.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Drath, W. H., McCauley, C. D., Palus, C. J., Van Velsor, E., O’Connor, P. M. G., & McGuire, J. B. (2008). Direction, Alignment, Commitment: Toward a More Integrative Ontology of Leadership. The Leadership Quarterly, 19(6), 635–653.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Ellis, A. P. J., Mai, K. M., & Christian, J. S. (2013). Examining the Asymmetrical Effects of Goal Fault Lines in Groups: A Categorization-Elaboration Approach. Journal of Applied Psychology, 98(6), 948–961.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. El-Sawad, A., Arnold, J., & Cohen, L. (2004). ‘Doublethink’: The Prevalence and Function of Contradiction in Accounts of Organizational Life. Human Relations, 57(9), 1179–1203.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Ford, J. (2006). Discourses of Leadership: Gender, Identity and Contradiction in a UK Public Sector Organization. Leadership, 2(1), 77–99.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Galanes, G. J. (2009). Dialectical Tensions of Small Group Leadership. Communication Studies, 60(5), 409–425.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Glynn, M. A. (2000). When Cymbals Become Symbols: Conflict over Organizational Identity within a Symphony Orchestra. Organization Science, 11(3), 285–298.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Graetz, F., & Smith, A. C. T. (2007). The Role of Dualities in Arbitrating Continuity and Change in Forms of Organizing. International Journal of Management Reviews, 10(3), 265–280.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Gulati, R., & Puranam, P. (2009). Renewal through Reorganization: The Value of Inconsistencies between Formal and Informal Organization. Organization Science, 20(2), 422–440.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Harrison, S. H., & Corley, K. G. (2011). Clean Climbing, Carabiners, and Cultural Cultivation: Developing an Open-Systems Perspective of Culture. Organization Science, 22(2), 391–412.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Hodgson, D. E. (2004). Project Work: The Legacy of Bureaucratic Control in the Post-Bureaucratic Organization. Organization, 11(1), 81–100.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Hood, C. (1991). A Public Management for All Seasons? Public Administration, 69(1).Google Scholar
  26. Hood, C. (2000). Paradoxes of Public-Sector Managerialism, Old Public Management and Public Service Bargains. International Public Management Journal, 3(1), 1–22.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Hood, C., & Peter, G. (2004). The Middle Aging of New Public Management: Into the Age of Paradox? Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, 14(3), 267–282.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. James, E. H., Wooten, L. P., & Dushek, K. (2011). Crisis Management: Informing a New Leadership Research Agenda. The Academy of Management Annals, 5(1), 455–493.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Janssens, M., & Steyaert, C. (1999). The World in Two and a Third Way Out? The Concept of Duality in Organization Theory and Practice. Scandinavian Journal of Management, 15(2), 121–139.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Jarzabkowski, P. A., & Le, J. K. (2016). We Have to Do This and That? You Must Be Joking: Constructing and Responding to Paradox Through Humor. Organization Studies, 38, 433–462.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Jay, J. (2013). Navigating Paradox as a Mechanism of Change and Innovation in Hybrid Organizations. Academy of Management Journal, 56(1), 137–159.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Jian, G. (2007). “Omega Is a Four-Letter Word”: Toward a Tension-Centered Model of Resistance to Information and Communication Technologies. Communication Monographs, 74(4), 517–540.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Kahn, W. A. (1990). Psychological Conditions of Personal Engagement and Disengagement at Work. Academy of Management Journal, 33(4), 692–724.Google Scholar
  34. Khazanchi, S., Lewis, M. W., & Boyer, K. K. (2007). Innovation-Supportive Culture: The Impact of Organizational Values on Process Innovation. Journal of Operations Management, 25(4), 871–884.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Kinder, T. (2012). Learning, Innovating and Performance in Post-New Public Management of Locally Delivered Public Services. Public Management Review, 14(3), 403–428.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Kirby, E. L., & Krone, K. J. (2002). “The Policy Exists but You Can’t Really Use It”: Communication and the Structuration of Work-Family Policies. Journal of Applied Communication Research, 30(1), 50–77.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Klarner, P., & Raisch, S. (2013). Move to the Beat–Rhythms of Change and Firm Performance. Academy of Management Journal, 56(1), 160–184.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Knox, H., O’Doherty, D. P., Vurdubakis, T., & Westrup, C. (2015). Something Happened: Spectres of Organization/Disorganization at the Airport. Human Relations, 68(6), 1001–1020.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Kozica, A. M. F., Gebhardt, C., Muller-Seitz, G., & Kaiser, S. (2015). Organizational Identity and Paradox: An Analysis of the “Stable State of Instability” of Wikipedia’s Identity. Journal of Management Inquiry, 24(2), 186–203.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Kreiner, G. E., Hollensbe, E., Sheep, M. L., Smith, B. R., & Kataria, N. (2015). Elasticity and the Dialectic Tensions of Organizational Identity: How Can We Hold Together While We Are Pulling Apart? Academy of Management Journal, 58(4), 981–1011.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Kreiner, G. E., Hollensbe, E. C., & Sheep, M. L. (2006). Where Is the “Me” among the “We”? Identity Work and the Search for Optimal Balance. Academy of Management Journal, 49, 1031–1057.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Lunde, N. (2012). Miraklet i LEGO. København: Politikens Forlag.Google Scholar
  43. Miron-Spektor, E., & Erez, M. (2017). Looking at Creativity through a Paradox Lens: Deeper Understanding and New Insights. In W. K. Smith, M. W. Lewis, P. Jarzabkowski, & A. Langley (Eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Organizational Paradox. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  44. Osborne, S. P. (2010). Delivering Public Services: Time for a New Theory? Public Management Review, 12(1), 1–10.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Pitts, M. J., Fowler, C., Kaplan, M. S., Nussbaum, J., & Becker, J. C. (2009). Dialectical Tensions Underpinning Family Farm Succession Planning. Journal of Applied Communication Research, 37(1), 59–79.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Putnam, L. L., Fairhurst, G. T., & Banghart, S. (2016). Contradictions, Dialectics, and Paradoxes in Organizations: A Constitutive Approach. The Academy of Management Annals, 10(1), 65–171.Google Scholar
  47. Raelin, J. A. (2016). Imagine There Are No Leaders: Reframing Leadership as Collaborative Agency. Leadership, 12(2), 131–158.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Rice, R. E., & Cooper, S. D. (2010). Organizations and Unusual Routines: A Systems Analysis of Dysfunctional Feedback Processes. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Rond, M., & Bouchikhi, H. (2004). On the Dialectics of Strategic Alliances. Organization Science, 15(1), 56–69.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Schreyögg, G., & Sydow, J. (2010). Crossroads—Organizing for Fluidity? Dilemmas of New Organizational Forms. Organization Science, 21(6), 1251–1262.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Schweitzer, M. E., Lisa, O., & Douma, B. (2004). Goal Setting as a Motivator of Unethical Behavior. Academy of Management Journal, 47, 422–432.Google Scholar
  52. Seal, W., & Ball, A. (2011). Interpreting the Dynamics of Public Sector Budgeting: A Dialectic of Control Approach. Financial Accountability & Management, 27(4), 409–436.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Sheep, M. L., Fairhurst, G. T., & Khazanchi, S. (2016). Knots in the Discourse of Innovation: Investigating Multiple Tensions in a Reacquired Spin-Off. Organization Studies, 38, 463–488.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Sias, P. M., Heath, R. G., Perry, T., Silva, D., & Fix, B. (2004). Narratives of Workplace Friendship Deterioration. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 21(3), 321–340.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Slack, N., Chambers, S., & Johnston, R. (2010). Operations Management. New York: Pearson Education.Google Scholar
  56. Slawinski, N., & Bansal, P. (2017). The Paradoxes of Time in Organizations. In W. K. Smith, M. W. Lewis, P. Jarzabkowski, & A. Langley (Eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Organizational Paradox (p. 17). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  57. Smets, M., Jarzabkowski, P., Burke, G. T., & Spee, P. (2015). Reinsurance Trading in Lloyd’s of London: Balancing Conflicting-yet-Complementary Logics in Practice. Academy of Management Journal, 58(3), 932–970.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Smith, A. C. T., & Graetz, F. (2006). Organizing Dualities and Strategizing for Change. Strategic Change, 15(5), 231–239.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Smith, K. K., & Berg, D. N. (1987). Paradoxes of Group Life: Understanding Conflict, Paralysis, and Movement in Group Dynamics. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
  60. Smith, W. K. (2014). Dynamic Decision Making: A Model of Senior Leaders Managing Strategic Paradoxes. Academy of Management Journal, 57(6), 1592–1623.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Smith, W. K., & Lewis, M. W. (2011). Toward a Theory of Paradox: A Dynamic Equilibrium Model of Organizing. Academy of Management Review, 36(2), 381–403.Google Scholar
  62. Stewart, J. (2006). Value Conflict and Policy Change. Review of Policy Research, 23(1), 183–195.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Thygesen, N., & Kampmann, N. (2013). Tillid På Bundlinjen: Offentlige Ledere Går Nye Veje. København: Gyldendal.Google Scholar
  64. Townley, B., Cooper, D. J., & Oakes, L. (2003). Performance Measures and the Rationalization of Organizations. Organization Studies, 24(7), 1045–1071.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Tracy, S. J. (2004). Dialectic, Contradiction, or Double Bind? Analyzing and Theorizing Employee Reactions to Organizational Tension. Journal of Applied Communication Research, 32(2), 119–146.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Tsoukas, H., & Cunha, M. P. (2017). On Organizational Circularity: Vicious and Virtuous Circles in Organizing. In W. K. Smith, M. W. Lewis, P. Jarzabkowski, & A. Langley (Eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Organizational Paradox. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  67. Von Bertalanffy, L. (1972). The History and Status of General Systems Theory. Academy of Management Journal, 15(4), 407–426.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jan Heiberg Johansen
    • 1
  1. 1.Independent ScholarCopenhagenDenmark

Personalised recommendations