Paradox as invitation to act in problematic change situations

N. Beech, Harry Burns, Linda de Caestecker, Robert MacIntosh, Donald MacLean

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    136 Citations (Scopus)


    It has been argued that organizational life typically contains paradoxical situations such as efforts to manage change which nonetheless seem to reinforce inertia. Four logical options for coping with paradox have been explicated, three of which seek resolution and one of which ‘keeps the paradox open’. The purpose of this article is to explore the potential for managerial action where the paradox is held open through the use of theory on ‘serious playfulness’. Our argument is that paradoxes, as intrinsic features in organizational life, cannot always be resolved through cognitive processes. What may be possible, however, is that such paradoxes are transformed, or ‘moved on’ through action and as a result the overall change effort need not be stalled by the existence of embedded paradoxes.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1313-1332
    JournalHuman Relations
    Issue number10
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2004


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