How to Learn from the Man in the Mirror: Navigating Paradoxes Through Self-Reflexivity

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In the light of increased organizational and environmental complexity, research turns ever more often to the notion of paradox to investigate how managers can navigate conflicting demands. However, the internal dynamics of paradox remain unclear, making it difficult to understand what exactly is meant by the concept, and how it can be managed in practice. This article notes that the full potential of paradox as an analytical tool for understanding complex situations of organizational life has not been reached, and reveals instances of organizational complexity that appear even more radical than current definitions of paradox posit. Using the sociologist Niklas Luhmann’s concepts of distinction and re-entry, we unfold the complexity of such situations and develop a typology that includes a novel type of paradox that appears underexplored. Illustrating several different ways that opposites can appear interdependent, interwoven, persistent, and synergistic, we contribute to theory- building within paradox research. Finally, we discuss our findings and managerial implications and point towards future research.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the Eightieth Annual Meeting of the Academy of Management
EditorsGuclu Atinc
Number of pages1
Place of PublicationBriarcliff Manor, NY
PublisherAcademy of Management
Publication date2020
Publication statusPublished - 2020
EventThe Academy of Management Annual Meeting 2020: Broadening Our Sight - Virtual
Duration: 7 Aug 202011 Aug 2020
Conference number: 80


ConferenceThe Academy of Management Annual Meeting 2020
Internet address
SeriesAcademy of Management Proceedings

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