[We are pleased to welcome Trish Reay, Editor-in-Chief of Organization Studies.]
Managing organizational contradictions is an increasingly popular topic for both academics and practitioners. The work world is filled with contradictory tensions such as autonomy vs control, where managerial responses must respect the opposing elements (e.g. autonomy and control) rather than focus on one at the expense of the other. In Integrating Dialectical and Paradox Perspectives on Managing Contradictions in Organizations authors Timothy Hargrave and Andrew Van de Ven take the view that paradox and dialectics provide different yet equally and simultaneously valid lenses for understanding such organizational contradictions. Drawing on both perspectives, they develop a theoretically grounded process model to: (1) focus on the management of organizational contradictions within a broader social context, (2) depict managers as both accepting of and resisting the contradictory elements, (3) identify two managerial approaches – assimilation and mutual adjustment, and (4) explain how tensions between contradictory elements can be both reproduced and transformed.
I particularly recommend this article because Hargrave & Van de Ven not only provide a thoughtful and helpful comparison of the paradox, dialectical and integrated approaches, but they also develop a series of provocative implications for paradox and dialectics researchers. As the authors note, their integrated model holds excellent potential for much needed attention to conflict, power, politics, institutions and the unintended consequences that impact managerial strategies regarding organizational contradictions. If you are interested in paradox or dialectics, this is really a ‘must read’ article!