Sub-theme 09: [SWG] Paradoxes of Enlightenment: Enlightenment of Paradoxes

Costas Andriopoulos
Cass Business School, City, University of London, United Kingdom
Manto Gotsi
Westminster Business School, University of Westminster, United Kingdom
Garima Sharma
Anderson School of Business, University of New Mexico, USA

Call for Papers

Political, technological, social, and cultural disruptions in our world surface unsettling competing demands and create grand challenges. For example, the refugee crisis holds deep implications not only for social and economic equality, but also for issues of manpower. Technological disruptions bring forth possibilities for product and process innovation, but also surface issues related to sustainability and inclusive growth, bringing many CEOs to the table as actors in the debate. ‘Fake news’ challenges the science we need to address important issues such as climate change. Such problems can be addressed through coordinated and collaborative action for positive global impact (Ferraro et al., 2015; George et al., 2016); yet, multi-actor, and sometimes even multi-region efforts can be challenging.
Understanding and managing paradoxical tensions in contemporary grand challenges can spark valuable theorizing and even be a source of ‘enlightenment’, revealing new knowledge both for research and practice. Paradox theory (e.g. Lewis, 2000; Smith & Lewis, 2011) offers a lens for understanding the nature of and responses to competing demands; offering insights on how individuals, teams and organizations experience “persistent contradiction between interdependent elements” (Schad et al., 2016, p. 2). At the organizational level, paradox studies have shown that when organizations are called to simultaneously address contradictory, yet interdependent elements, they face tensions in cognition, goals, practices, or outcomes (Andriopoulos et al., 2018; Battilana & Dorado, 2010; Hahn et al., 2014; Jay, 2013; Slawinski & Bansal, 2015; Smith et al., 2013; Van der Byl & Slawinski, 2015).
Scholars have, thus, started addressing important questions, such as: what is the paradox of size and scale of large organizations in looking for contextualized solutions for inclusive growth (George et al., 2012); how do organizations sustain exploration and exploitation (Andriopoulos & Lewis, 2009); how do enterprises seeking to create positive impact manage the tensions between their social mission and financial sustainability (Battilana & Dorado, 2010; Smith & Besharov, 2017; Smith et al., 2013); and how can organizations navigate self and societal interests in making important decisions (Jay, 2013)?
In this sub-theme, we welcome research that broadly addresses issues of organizational paradox. However, we also want to shine a light on how grand challenges unsettle individuals, teams, organizations and even institutions, making paradoxical tensions salient; and how actors across levels can engage with and respond to these paradoxical tensions to foster positive impact. We outline some illustrative topics below:

  • Tackling paradoxes of grand challenges. We invite submissions from scholars who are asking “problem-oriented and impact focused” (Ferraro et al., 2015, p. 2) questions. We are looking for scholarship that addresses how technological, political, social, and cultural disruptions reveal new fault lines in business responsibility, and how this phenomenon informs and can be informed by theories of paradox.

  • Identity renaissance in the age of paradoxes. Grand challenges trigger extensive identity work, sometimes motivating entirely new identity projects. Studies have started to unpack identity as a double edge sword to managing paradoxical tensions (Gotsi et al., 2010; O’Reilly & Tushman, 2013). We invite papers that explore how identity (at the individual, team, and organizational level) is being challenged or even transformed in the context of grand challenges; and the role of identity work and identity regulation in addressing these challenges.

  • The dark side of paradoxes. Research on paradox has stressed the advantages that their management can bring to managers and other actors (Lewis, 2000; Smith & Lewis, 2011). We encourage authors to examine what has potentially been left behind and, specifically, invite submissions that unpack the potential ‘dark side’ of paradox. Can the management of paradoxes also generate a dark side, with not so glorious side effects for individuals, teams, organizations, and society at large?

  • Knowledge production in the post-truth era. The post-truth era has brought our attention to questions of knowledge, facts and the epistemic authority of experts. Like never before, science is being questioned. On the one hand, such questioning undermines the progress that years of research have made. On the other hand, it affords an opportunity to revisit how we produce knowledge and our roles as scholars in knowledge’s impact on practice (Vrieze, 2017). Several scholars (e.g., Bartunek, 2007; van de Ven, 2007) have argued for co-creation of knowledge between academics and managers to reveal newer insights. At the same time, such endeavors are fraught with challenges. Academics and practitioners come from different epistemic worlds with different languages, time horizons, and interests (Bansal et al., 2012; Bartunek & Rynes, 2014). Further, researchers’ collaboration with practitioners brings to surface several ontological and epistemological questions about what is objective knowledge and who has the right to produce it (Daft & Lewin, 2008; Kieser & Leiner, 2009). We invite scholars to submit work that studies the phenomenon of academic-practitioner collaboration (or employs such collaboration in their own research design) to speak to the paradoxes of knowledge generation.



  • Andriopoulos, C., Gotsi, M., Lewis, M.W., & Ingram, A.E. (2018): “Turning the sword: How NPD teams cope with front-end NPD tensions.” Journal of Product Innovation Management, 35 (3), 427–445.
  • Andriopoulos, C., & Lewis, M.W. (2009): “Exploitation-Exploration Tensions and Organizational Ambidexterity: Managing Paradoxes of Innovation.” Organization Science, 20 (4), 696–717.
  • Bansal, P., Bertels, S., Ewart, T., MacConnachie, P., & O’Brien, J. (2012): “Bridging the Research-Practice Gap.” Academy of Management Perspectives, 26 (1), 73–92.
  • Bartunek, J.M. (2007): “Academic-practitioner collaboration need not require joint or relevant research: Toward a relational scholarship of integration.” Academy of Management Journal, 50 (6), 1323–1333.
  • Bartunek, J.M., & Rynes, S.L. (2014): “Academics and practitioners are alike and unlike the paradoxes of academic–practitioner relationships.” Journal of Management, 40 (5), 1181–1201.
  • Battilana, J., & Dorado, S. (2010): “Building sustainable hybrid organizations: The case of a commercial microfinance organization.” Academy of Management Journal, 53 (6), 1419–1440.
  • Daft, R.L., & Lewin, A.Y. (2008): “Rigor and Relevance in Organization Studies: Idea Migration and Academic Journal Evolution.” Organization Science, 19 (1), 177–183.
  • de Vrieze, J. (2017): “Bruno Latour, a veteran of the ‘science wars,’ has a new mission.” Science, October 10, 2017,
  • Ferraro, F., Etzion, D., & Gehman, J. (2015): “Tackling Grand Challenges Pragmatically: Robust Action Revisited.” Organization Studies, 36 (3), 1–28.
  • George, G., Howard-Grenville, J., Joshi, A., & Tihanyi, L. (2016): “Understanding and tackling societal grand challenges through management research.” Academy of Management Journal, 59 (6), 1880–1896.
  • George, G., McGahan, A.M., & Prabhu, J. (2012): “Innovation for inclusive growth: Towards a theoretical framework and a research agenda.” Journal of Management Studies, 49 (4), 661–683.
  • Gotsi, M., Andriopoulos, C., Lewis, M.W., & Ingram, A.E. (2010): “Managing creatives: Paradoxical approaches to identity regulation.” Human Relations, 63 (6), 781–805.
  • Hahn, T., Preuss, L., Pinkse, J., & Figge, F. (2014): “Cognitive frames in corporate sustainability: Managerial sensemaking with paradoxical and business case frames.” Academy of Management Review, 39 (4), 463–487.
  • Jay, J. (2013): “Navigating Paradox as a Mechanism of Change and Innovation in Hybrid Organizations.” Academy of Management Journal, 56 (1), 137–159.
  • Kieser, A., & Leiner, L. (2009): “Why the rigour–relevance gap in management research is unbridgeable.” Journal of Management Studies, 46 (3), 516–533.
  • Lewis, M.W. (2000): “Exploring Paradox: Toward a More Comprehensive Guide.” Academy of Management Review, 25 (4), 760–776.
  • O’Reilly, C.A., & Tushman, M.L. (2013): “Organizational ambidexterity: Past, present, future.” Academy of Management Perspectives, 27 (4), 324–338.
  • Schad, J., Lewis, M.W., Raisch, S., & Smith, W.K. (2016): “Paradox Research in Management Science: Looking Back to Move Forward.” Academy of Management Annals, 10 (1), 5–64.
  • Slawinski, N., & Bansal, P. (2015): “Short on Time: Intertemporal Tensions in Business Sustainability.” Organization Science, 26 (2), 531–549.
  • Smith, W.K., & Besharov, M.L. (2017): “Bowing before Dual Gods: How Structured Flexibility Sustains Organizational Hybridity.” Admininstrative Science Quarterly, first published online on December 19, 2017,
  • Smith, W.K., Gonin, M., & Besharov, M.L. (2013): “Managing social-business tensions: A review and research agenda for social enterprise.” Business Ethics Quarterly, 23 (3), 407–442.
  • Smith, W.K., & Lewis, M.W. (2011): “Toward a theory of paradox: A dynamic equilibrium model of organizing.” Academy of Management Review, 36 (2), 381–403.
  • van de Ven, A.H. (2007): Engaged Scholarship. A Guide for Organizational and Social Research. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Van der Byl, C.A., & Slawinski, N. (2015): “Embracing tensions in corporate sustainability: A review of research from win-wins and trade-offs to paradoxes and beyond.” Organization & Environment, 28 (1), 54–79.


Costas Andriopoulos is a Professor of Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Cass Business School, City, University of London, UK. His research on organizational ambidexterity and the management of innovation paradoxes has been featured in journals such as ‘Organization Science’, ‘Human Relations’, ‘Journal of Product Innovation Management’, ‘California Management Review’, among others.
Manto Gotsi is a Reader in Marketing at Westminster Business School, University of Westminster, UK. Her research on the nature and management of tensions and paradoxes has been published in journals such as ‘Human Relations’, ‘Journal of Product Innovation Management’, ‘European Journal of Marketing’, among others.
Garima Sharma is Assistant Professor of Management at Anderson School of Business, University of New Mexico, USA. Garima is interested in stuyding social-commercial tensions in sustainability and corporate social responsibility. She also studies the opportunities and challenges in academic-practitioner collaboration for knowledge generation. Her research has been published in Journals such as ‘Organization Studies’, ‘Journal of Business Venturing’, ‘Journal of Business Ethics’, among others.