Keller, J., Carmine, S., Jarzabkowski, P., Lewis, M. W., Pradies, C., Sharma, G., … & Vince, R. (2021). Our Collective Tensions: Paradox Research Community’s Response to COVID-19. Journal of Management Inquiry.


Since the beginning of the pandemic, researchers studying paradox have seen tensions embedded in the crisis itself, in government responses, and in the day-to-day experiences of the organizational actors studied—from the CEO to the frontline worker. Multiple media outlets have used the word “paradox” to describe the crisis. Therefore, a group of 42 paradox scholars decided to engage in a collective sensemaking effort. The goal was to discuss (1) how paradox theory can help understand the pandemic, and (2) how this pandemic allows us to rethink paradox theory. The result of this collective effort were three papers, which spanned three levels of analyses—from the society to the organization to the individual within the organization. Each paper includes important insights on the pandemic, and insights into paradox theory and more broadly how we approach the tensions that pervade major exogenous events. These papers also inspired the team who led this effort to produce this fourth paper to surface a reflection on the overall experience as paradox researchers. This reflection includes Russ Vince’s commentary on the emotions that informed his own experience with the pandemic and that echoes the emotional experience of many. Paula Jarzabkowski, Marianne Lewis, and Wendy Smith then discuss the three papers, discuss their own experience, and provide their own insights on how this experience will shape the future of paradox research.

The Article is available here