SCENT: A Typology of Generic Solutions to Paradoxical Integration

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Over the last three decades, the literature on organizational paradox has grown into a sizable body of knowledge. Despite the assumption that organizational paradox is “inherent” (Smith & Lewis, 2011: 382) or “unavoidable” (Berti & Simpson, 2019: 3) and hence irresolvable or “impervious to resolution” (Schad et al., 2016: 11), organizational paradox scholars have proposed various solutions to paradoxical integration, such as ambidexterity (Gibson & Birkinshaw, 2004; Tushman & O’Reilly, 1996), dynamic equilibrium (Smith & Lewis, 2011), dynamic balance (Smets et al., 2015), Yin-Yang balancing (P. Li, 2016), Zhong-Yong balancing (X. Li, 2018), and elastic hybridity (Gümüsay, Smets & Morris, 2020). While these solutions are claimed to be distinct to each other, some connections and even similarities can be identified. One of the two purposes of this paper is to clarify the interrelationships among the existing solutions. Coincided with the generation of various solutions is the publication of several taxonomies of solutions to paradox, such as Baxter (1988/1990), Poole & Van de Ven (1989), Stroh & Miller (1994), and Seo, Putnam & Bartunek (2004). A comparison and contrast between these taxonomies reveals important overlaps and differences among them, which means none of these taxonomies represents an exhaustive list of basic or generic solutions. The second and main purpose of this paper is to identify a parsimonious yet comprehensive set of generic solutions from which practitioners can choose the most suitable solutions or appropriate combinations of solutions for their problems. In what follows, we first review the existing solutions to paradox and group them into three broad categories; then we review the existing taxonomies of solutions, resulting in the identification of six distinct approaches to dealing with paradoxical tension, one of which is an either/or selection; finally, we propose a typology of five generic solutions to paradoxical integration, the acronym of which is SCENT.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date2020
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - 2020
Event36th EGOS Colloquium 2020: Organizing for a Sustainable Future: Responsibility, Renewal & Resistance - Virtual Conference, Hamburg, Germany
Duration: 2 Jul 20204 Jul 2020
Conference number: 36


Conference36th EGOS Colloquium 2020
LocationVirtual Conference
Internet address

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