Advertisement

Paradox Tactics: Avoid, Activate, Transcend

  • Jan Heiberg Johansen
Chapter

Abstract

When organizational actors approach paradoxes they consciously or unconsciously apply a number of paradox tactics. It is a descriptive term for the handling of paradoxes. Tactics work together with paradoxes in paradox chains and the concept of paradox tactics only makes sense in relation to paradoxes.

This chapter will look into the “tactical logics” that organizational actors form before examining the three clusters of tactics—avoidance, activation, and transcendence. Tactical logics are patterns in the organizational actors’ response to paradoxes (Smets et al. 2015).

Change in tactical logics can take place via “turning points” that work as transitional fields. The five sections—tactical logics, avoidance, activation, transcendence, and turning points—form the chapter’s structure.

Keywords

The typology of paradox tactics Avoidance, activation and transcendence Paradox theory is a new language on managing complexity 

Bibliography

  1. Abdallah, C., Denis, J. L., & Langley, A. (2011). Having Your Cake and Eating It Too: Discourses of Transcendence and Their Role in Organizational Change Dynamics. Journal of Organizational Change Management, 24(3), 333–348.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Alvesson, M., & Spicer, A. (2012). Critical Leadership Studies: The Case for Critical Performativity. Human Relations, 65(3), 367–390.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Andriopoulos, C. (2003). Six Paradoxes in Managing Creativity: An Embracing Act. Long Range Planning, 36(4), 375–388.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Andriopoulos, C., & Lewis, M. W. (2009). Exploitation-Exploration Tensions and Organizational Ambidexterity: Managing Paradoxes of Innovation. Organization Science, 20(4), 696–717.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Andriopoulos, C., & Lewis, M. W. (2010). Managing Innovation Paradoxes: Ambidexterity Lessons from Leading Product Design Companies. Long Range Planning, 43(1), 104–122.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Ashforth, B. E., & Reingen, P. H. (2014). Functions of Dysfunction: Managing the Dynamics of an Organizational Duality in a Natural Food Cooperative. Administrative Science Quarterly, 59(3), 474–516.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bartunek, J. M., Walsh, K., & Lacey, C. A. (2000). Dynamics and Dilemmas of Women Leading Women. Organization Science, 11(6), 589–610.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Beech, N., Burns, H., de Caestecker, L., MacIntosh, R., & MacLean, D. (2004). Paradox as Invitation to Act in Problematic Change Situations. Human Relations, 57(10), 1313–1332.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Benington, J., & Hartley, J. (2009). Whole Systems Go! Leadership Across the Whole Public Service System. Ascot: National School of Government.Google Scholar
  10. Boiral, O. (2003). ISO 9000: Outside the Iron Cage. Organization Science, 14(6), 720–737.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Boumgarden, P., Nickerson, J., & Zenger, T. R. (2012). Sailing into the Wind: Exploring the Relationships among Ambidexterity, Vacillation, and Organizational Performance. Strategic Management Journal, 33(6), 587–610.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Carlone, D., & Larson, G. S. (2006). Locating Possibilities for Control and Resistance in a Self-Help Program. Western Journal of Communication, 70(4), 270–291.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Carmeli, A., & Halevi, M. Y. (2009). How Top Management Team Behavioral Integration and Behavioral Complexity Enable Organizational Ambidexterity: The Moderating Role of Contextual Ambidexterity. The Leadership Quarterly, 20(2), 207–218.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Cho, S., Mathiassen, L., & Robey, D. (2007). Dialectics of Resilience: A Multi-Level Analysis of a Telehealth Innovation. Journal of Information Technology, 22(1), 24–35.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Clegg, S., & e Cunha, M. P. (2017). Organizational Dialectics. In The Oxford Handbook of Organizational Paradox (p. 105). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  16. Collins, J. (2001). Good to Great. New York: Random House Books.Google Scholar
  17. Collins, J., & Porras, J. (1997). Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies. New York: Harper-Business.Google Scholar
  18. Dean, M., & Oetzel, J. G. (2014). Physicians’ Perspectives of Managing Tensions around Dimensions of Effective Communication in the Emergency Department. Health Communication, 29(3), 257–266.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Deephouse, D. L. (1999). To Be Different, or to Be the Same? It’s a Question (and Theory) of Strategic Balance. Strategic Management Journal, 20(2), 147–166.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Denis, J. L., Lamothe, L., & Langley, A. (2001). The Dynamics of Collective Leadership and Strategic Change in Pluralistic Organizations. Academy of Management Journal, 44(4), 809–837.Google Scholar
  21. Denison, D., Hooijberg, R., & Quinn, R. E. (1995). Paradox and Performance: Toward a Theory of Behavioral Complexity in Managerial Leadership. Organizational Science, 6(5), 524–540.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Ekman, S. (2010). Authority and Autonomy. Doctoral thesis, Copenhagen Business School, Copenhagen.Google Scholar
  23. Erhardt, N., & Gibbs, J. L. (2014). The Dialectical Nature of Impression Management in Knowledge Work: Unpacking Tensions in Media Use between Managers and Subordinates. Management Communication Quarterly, 28(2), 155–186.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Foot, K. A. (2001). Cultural-Historical Activity Theory as Practice Theory: Illuminating the Development of Conflict-Monitoring Network. Communication Theory, 11(1), 56–83.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Gebert, D., Boerner, S., & Kearney, E. (2010). Fostering Team Innovation: Why Is It Important to Combine Opposing Action Strategies? Organization Science, 21(3), 593–608.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Gibbs, J. (2009). Dialectics in a Global Software Team: Negotiating Tensions across Time, Space, and Culture. Human Relations, 62(6), 905–935.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Glynn, M. A. (2000). When Cymbals Become Symbols: Conflict over Organizational Identity within a Symphony Orchestra. Organization Science, 11(3), 285–298.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Graetz, F., & Smith, A. C. T. (2009). Duality Theory and Organizing Forms in Change Management. Journal of Change Management, 9(1), 9–25.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. 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
  30. Gupta, A. K., Smith, K. G., & Shalley, C. E. (2006). The Interplay between Exploration and Exploitation. Academy of Management Journal, 49, 693–706.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Hahn, T., Preuss, L., Pinkse, J., & Figge, F. (2014). Cognitive Frames in Corporate Sustainability: Managerial Sensemaking with Paradoxical and Business Case Frames. Academy of Management Review, 39(4), 463–487.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Hart, S. L., & Quinn, R. E. (1993). Roles Executives Play: CEOs, Behavioral Complexity, and Firm Performance. Human Relations, 46(5), 543–574.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Heiberg Johansen, J. (2015). Frontline Paradox Tactics. MBA dissertation, Henley Business School – University of Reading.Google Scholar
  34. Heydebrand, W. (1977). Organizational Contradictions in Public Bureaucracies: Toward a Marxian Theory of Organizations. Sociological Quarterly, 18(1), 83–107.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Hodgson, D. E. (2004). Project Work: The Legacy of Bureaucratic Control in the Post-Bureaucratic Organization. Organization, 11(1), 81–100.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. 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
  37. Jarzabkowski, P., Le, J. K., & Van de Ven, A. H. (2013). Responding to Competing Strategic Demands: How Organizing, Belonging, and Performing Paradoxes Coevolve. Strategic Organization, 11(3), 245–280.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. 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
  39. 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
  40. Jian, G. (2007). Unpacking Unintended Consequences in Planned Organizational Change: A Process Model. Management Communication Quarterly, 21(1), 5–28.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. 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
  42. Klein, K. J., Ziegert, J. C., Knight, A., & Xiao, Y. (2006). Dynamic Delegation: Shared, Hierarchical and Deindividualized Leadership in Extreme Action Teams. Administrative Science Quarterly, 51(4), 590–621.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. 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
  44. Lavie, D., Stettner, U., & Tushman, M. L. (2010). Exploration and Exploitation within and across Organizations. The Academy of Management Annals, 4(1), 109–155.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Lewis, M. W. (2000). Exploring Paradox: Toward a More Comprehensive Guide. Academy of Management Review, 25(4), 760–776.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Lewis, M. W., Andriopoulos, C., & Smith, W. K. (2014). Paradoxical Leadership to Enable Strategic Agility. California Management Review, 56(3), 58–77.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Lewis, M. W., & Dehler, G. E. (2000). Learning through Paradox: A Pedagogical Strategy for Exploring Contradictions and Complexity. Journal of Management Education, 24(6), 708–725.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Long, B. C., Hall, W. A., Bermbach, N., Jordan, S., & Patterson, K. (2008). Gauging Visibility: How Female Clerical Workers Manage Work-Related Distress. Qualitative Health Research, 18(10), 1413–1428.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Lynch, O. H. (2009). Kitchen Antics: The Importance of Humor and Maintaining Professionalism at Work. Journal of Applied Communication Research, 37(4), 444–464.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Majgaard, K. (2014). Jagten på autenticitet i offentlig styring. Phd dissertation, Copenhagen Business School.Google Scholar
  51. Majgaard, K. (2017). Handlekraft i velfærdsledelse. København: Hans Reitzels Forlag.Google Scholar
  52. Martin, D. M. (2004). Humor in Middle Management: Women Negotiating the Paradoxes of Organizational Life. Journal of Applied Communication Research, 32(2), 147–170.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Martin, R. (2007). The Opposable Mind: How Successful Leaders Win through Integrative Thinking. Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Press.Google Scholar
  54. Miron-Spektor, E., Gino, F., & Argote, L. (2011). Paradoxical Frames and Creative Sparks: Enhancing Individual Creativity through Conflict and Integration. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 116(2), 229–240.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Musson, G., & Duberley, J. (2007). Change, Change or Be Exchanged: The Discourse of Participation and the Manufacture of Identity. Journal of Management Studies, 44(1), 143–164.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Nippert-Eng, C. E. (1996). Calendars and Keys: The Classification of “Home” and “Work”. Sociological Forum, 11(3), 563–582.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. O’Mahony, S., & Bechky, B. A. (2006). Stretchwork: Managing the Career Progression Paradox in External Labor Markets. Academy of Management Journal, 49(5), 918–941.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Pache, A. C., & Santos, F. (2013). Inside the Hybrid Organization: Selective Coupling as a Response to Competing Institutional Logics. Academy of Management Journal, 56(4), 972–1001.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Patil, S. V., & Tetlock, P. E. (2014). Punctuated Incongruity: A New Approach to Managing Trade-Offs between Conformity and Deviation. Research in Organizational Behavior, 34, 155–171.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Poole, M. S., & Van de Ven, A. H. (1989). Using Paradox to Build Management and Organization Theories. Academy of Management Review, 14(4), 562–578.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Putnam, L. L., & Fairhurst, G. T. (2001). Discourse Analysis in Organizations: Issues and Concerns. In F. M. Jablin & L. L. Putnam (Eds.), The New Handbook of Organizational Communication: Advances in Theory, Research, and Methods (pp. 78–136). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  62. 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
  63. Putnam, L. L., Myers, K. K., & Gailliard, B. M. (2014). Examining the Tensions in Workplace Flexibility and Exploring Options for New Directions. Human Relations, 67(4), 413–440.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Rees, L., Rothman, N. B., Lehavy, R., & Sanchez-Burks, J. (2013). The Ambivalent Mind Can Be a Wise Mind: Emotional Ambivalence Increases Judgment Accuracy. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 49(3), 360–367.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Schreyögg, G., & Sydow, J. (2010). Crossroads—Organizing for Fluidity? Dilemmas of New Organizational Forms. Organization Science, 21(6), 1251–1262.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Scott, C. W., & Trethewey, A. (2008). Organizational Discourse and the Appraisal of Occupational Hazards: Interpretive Repertoires, Heedful Interrelating, and Identity at Work. Journal of Applied Communication Research, 36(3), 298–317.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. 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
  68. Seo, M., Putnam, L. L., & Bartunek, J. M. (2004). Dualities and Tensions in Planned Organizational Change. In M. S. Poole & A. H. Van de Ven (Eds.), Handbook of Organizational Change and Innovation (pp. 73–107). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  69. 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
  70. 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
  71. 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
  72. Smith, W. K., Besharov, M. L., Wessels, A. K., & Chertok, M. (2012). A Paradoxical Leadership Model for Social Entrepreneurs: Challenges, Leadership Skills, and Pedagogical Tools for Managing Social and Commercial Demands. Academy of Management Learning & Education, 11(3), 463–478.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Smith, W. K., & Tushman, M. L. (2005). Managing Strategic Contradictions: A Top Management Model for Managing Innovation Streams. Organization Science, 16(5), 522–536.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. Stewart, J. (2006). Value Conflict and Policy Change. Review of Policy Research, 23(1), 183–195.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  75. 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
  76. Tsoukas, H., & Cunha, M. (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
  77. Tushman, M. L., & O’Reilly, C. A. (1996). Ambidextrous Organizations: Managing Evolutionary and Revolutionary Change. California Management Review, 38(4), 8–30.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  78. Tushman, M. L., & Romanelli, E. (1985). Organization Evolution: A Metamorphosis Model of Convergence and Reorientation. Research in Organizational Behavior, 7, 171–222.Google Scholar
  79. Wood, J. T., & Conrad, C. (1983). Paradox in the Experiences of Professional Women. Western Journal of Speech Communication, 47(4), 305–322.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  80. Zhang, Y., Waldman, D. A., Han, Y. L., & Li, X. B. (2015). Paradoxical Leader Behaviors in People Management: Antecedents and Consequences. Academy of Management Journal, 58(2), 538–566.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

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

Personalised recommendations