[Business and Management INK would like to welcome Wendy K. Smith, Guest Editor for the Organization Studies‘ Special Issue: Paradox, Tensions and Dualities of Innovation and Change. Below, Dr. Smith reflects on the themes of the issue and her experience as a guest editor:]
When I was a doctoral student, faculty and colleagues frequently tried to dissuade me from studying paradox. Only a small handful of scholars wrote about paradoxes, dialectics and dualities in organizations and management theory. Most academics believed these ideas belonged in philosophy classes or in yoga studios, but was too abstract and underspecified for organizational and management theory. Several senior colleagues confessed their long-standing intrigue with the idea, but noted that they abandoned efforts to publish paradox studies in their earlier years, given how hard it was to do.
Against this backdrop, I could not be more delighted when we ended up with 106 high quality submissions, the most received for a special issue to date for a special issue in Organizational Studies. Paradox, it seems, is no longer a peripheral theory or pet project reserved for the luxury of intrigued senior scholars. As an intellectual field, we have worked to increasing clarity to define and bound key constructs and propose and test critical relationships. At the same time, we have seen greater breadth applying paradox theory across levels of analysis, phenomena, and theory, ultimately acting more as a meta-theory.
The Organizational Studies Special Issue provide a great example of the convergence and divergence of the field. The nine papers in the special issue collectively describe paradox, dualities and dialectics as three constructs each depicted by both contradiction and interdependence. They also suggest divergence in the application of these concepts, drawing from an array of methodologies and explore insights across varied innovation and change phenomena, industries and geographies. Seven of the studies adopt inductive and qualitative methods, while one study applies an individual-level experimental research design, while another offers a theoretical argument. The studies also explore tensions in a wide range of phenomena, including senior leadership decision making, cross-sector collaborations, inter-professional collaborations, employee identification, and mergers and acquisitions. Moreover, they examine these issues in industries ranging from utilities, media and public services to health care and print. They further use data from China, India, Australia, the UK, and the US.
The field of paradox studies has progressed significantly over the last 20 years, becoming a more legitimacy theory with broad application. I look forward to the next chapter as the theory continues to grapple with increased complexity and opportunity.
You can read articles from the Special Issue: Paradox, Tensions and Dualities of Innovation and Change for the next 30 days free.