PDW 04: Paradox Theory for Inclusive Research in Disruptive Times

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Marc Krautzberger
University of St. Gallen, Switzerland
Jonathan Schad
King’s College London, United Kingdom
Stephanie Schrage
Hamburg University of Technology, Germany
Garima Sharma
Georgia State University, USA

Call for Applications

Keynote speakers:

, University of Cincinnati, USA
, University of Delaware, USA

Please note: This PDW will take place on Wednesday, July 7, 2021, from 13:00 to 17:00 CEST!


We are living in disruptive times. The world is undergoing large-scale changes, such as economic crises, climate change, technological breakthroughs, and the global COVID-19 pandemic. Management research increasingly seeks to study such complex changes and their interplay within organizations. Yet, studying such complex phenomena requires insights from multiple disciplines and theoretical lenses. Paradox research offers a possibility for more inclusive theorizing by engaging multiple, competing views and issues that emerge in times of disruption such as old-new, individual-collective, and short-long term.
Paradoxes denote “persistent contradictions between interdependent elements” (Schad et al., 2016, p. 6). Paradox theory aims at better understanding the nature, management, and dynamics of tensions. This focus facilitates a scholarly conversation that is inclusive across disciplines, paradigms, and research which spans levels of analysis, contexts, and theoretical lenses. Disruption requires such inclusive approach to theorizing in order to push forward academic knowledge and provide novel insights for practice.
Paradox theory is inclusive in a few ways:

  • First, the theory and associated frameworks have fostered research on a variety of topics, many of which are central issues in disruptive times such as social entrepreneurship (Galuppo et al., 2019; Smith & Besharov, 2019), organizing for sustainability (Sharma & Bansal, 2017; Van der Byl et al., 2020), and management of man-machine interaction in the digital age (Raisch & Krakowski, 2021; Tilson et al., forthcoming).

  • Second, paradox has been a big-tent theory, even a meta-theory (Lewis & Smith, 2014), since it has built on different theories such as practice theory, systems theory, and institutional theory (Putnam et al., 2016; Smith & Besharov, 2019; Tuckermann, 2019). This diversity allows for looking at disruption in novel ways.

  • Third, paradox researchers have drawn on insights from different cultures such as the Afro-centric tradition “Ubuntu” (Gaim & Clegg, forthcoming), and juxtaposed opposing philosophical underpinnings such as Chinese Yin-Yang philosophy with a Western view of resolving tensions (Zhang et al., 2015).

These cultural and philosophical underpinnings contextualize disruption such that scholars are able to challenge theoretical assumptions and see new fault lines revealed by issues such as unequal effects of climate change around the globe.
In this PDW 04 – hosted by the EGOS Standing Working Group (SWG) 09 “Organizational Paradox: Engaging Plurality, Tensions and Contradictions” – we draw on paradox theory to better understand these disruptive times. Our aim is to invite and develop papers that address but are not limited to paradoxes and disruption. The workshop seeks papers that push theoretical and methodological boundaries, and aim at making bold theoretical and practical contributions. We encourage submissions across research fields, theoretical backgrounds, and philosophical underpinnings that integrate ideas across different sub-themes.


The PDW comprises two blocks. It will start with a keynote panel: Marianne W. Lewis and Wendy K. Smith – authors of the most influential texts on paradox theory – will share insights on writing and publishing paradox papers.
During the roundtable sessions, accepted papers will receive feedback from experts in the field of paradox research. All participants are expected to have read the papers of their fellow session presenters and give them feedback.


This PDW is open to all scholars interested in paradoxes and other forms of tensions. We will select papers depending on their novelty and potential for theoretical contribution. PhD students and early career scholars are particularly encouraged to submit but we will also consider applications from more senior scholars. We will give preference to papers that are not presented in a sub-theme at the main EGOS Colloquium 2021.

Please submit – via the EGOS website – by April 30, 2021 a single document of application (.doc, .docx or .pdf file) that includes:

  • A short letter of application containing full details of name, address (postal address, phone, and email), affiliation (date of PhD completion for early career scholars).

  • A statement of why you consider it valuable to attend this PDW as well as an indication of what journal(s) the paper is likely to be submitted to.

  • A draft/working paper with max. 10 double-spaced pages, including references, figures, or tables. By submitting a paper, you agree to provide a full draft of the paper prior to the workshop.

We will inform the PDW applicants of the decision by mid/end of May 2021.


  • Gaim, M., & Clegg, S. (2021/forthcoming): “Paradox beyond East/West orthodoxy: The case of Ubuntu.” In: R. Bednarek, M. Pina e Cunha, J. Schad & W.K. Smith (eds.): Interdisciplinary Dialogues on Organizational Paradox. Bingley: Emerald Publishing Limited.
  • Galuppo, L., Gorli, M., Alexander, B.N., & Scaratti, G. (2019): “Leading in Social Entrepreneurship: Developing Organizational Resources in Confrontation with Paradoxes.” In: A.B.R. Shani & D.A. Noumair (eds.): Research in Organizational Change and Development. Bingley: Emerald Publishing Limited, 167–186.
  • Lewis, M.W., & Smith, W.K. (2014): “Paradox as a metatheoretical perspective: Sharpening the focus and widening the scope.” The Journal of Applied Behavioral Science, 50 (2), 127–149.
  • Putnam, L.L., Fairhurst, G.T., & Banghart, S. (2016): “Contradictions, dialectics, and paradoxes in organizations: A constitutive approach.” Academy of Management Annals, 10 (1), 65-171.
  • Raisch, S., & Krakowski, S. (2021): “Artificial Intelligence and Management: The Automation-Augmentation Paradox.” Academy of Management Review, 46 (1), 192–210.
  • 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.
  • Sharma, G., & Bansal, P. (2017): “Partners for good: How business and NGOs engage the commercial–social paradox.” Organization Studies, 38( 3-4), 341–364.
  • Smith, W.K., & Besharov, M.L. (2019): “Bowing before dual gods: How structured flexibility sustains organizational hybridity.” Administrative Science Quarterly, 64 (1), 1–44.
  • Tilson, D., Sørensen, C., & Lyytinen, K.J. (2021/forthcoming): “Digital induced industry paradoxes: Disruptive innovations of taxiwork and music streaming beyond organizational boundaries.” In: R. Bednarek, M. Pina e Cunha, J. Schad & W.K. Smith (eds.): Interdisciplinary Dialogues on Organizational Paradox. Bingley: Emerald Publishing Limited.
  • Tuckermann, H. (2019): “Visibilizing and Invisibilizing Paradox: A process study of interactions in a hospital executive board.” Organization Studies, 40 (12), 1851–1872.
  • Van der Byl, C., Slawinski, N., & Hahn, T. (2020): “Responsible management of sustainability tensions: paradoxical approach to grand challenges.” In: O. Laasch, R. Suddaby, R. Freeman & D. Jamali (eds.): Research Handbook of Responsible Management. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar Publishing, 438–452.
  • Zhang, Y., Waldman, D.A., Han, Y.-L., & Li, X.-B. (2015): “Paradoxical leader behaviors in people management: Antecedents and consequences.” Academy of Management Journal, 58 (2), 538–566.
Marc Krautzberger is a senior researcher in organization studies at the University of St. Gallen, Switzerland. His research areas are strategy and digital transformation. He is particularly interested in strategic management practices in dealing with conflicting goals in complex environments that are characterized by technology driven markets, transformative change, and competing demands. Marc combines organization theory (particularly paradox theory and practice theory) with qualitative research methods. His research has peen published in academic journals such as ‘Strategic Organization’ and practitioner-oriented journals.
Jonathan Schad is an Assistant Professor (‘Lecturer’) in Strategy and Organisation theory at King’s College London, UK. His research seeks to better understand the tensions surfaced by the grand challenges of our time. His work on paradox has been published or is forthcoming in the ‘Academy of Management Annals’, ‘Journal of Management Studies’, ‘Strategic Organization, ‘Journal of Management Inquiry’, and ‘Research in the Sociology of Organizations’. Jonathan co-organized the paradox PDWs at the EGOS Colloquia in 2018, 2019, and 2020. He is a co-cordinator of the EGOS Standing Working Group (SWG) 09 on “Organizational Paradox: Engaging Plurality, Tensions and Contradictions”.
Stephanie Schrage is a post-doctoral researcher at the Institute of Strategic and International Management at Hamburg University of Technology, Germany. Her research centers on tensions emerging from sustainability implementation in global value chains, digital disruption, and business ethics. Her work has been published or is forthcoming in the ‘Journal of Business Ethics’, ‘Organization Studies, and ‘Journal of Management Inquiry’.
Garima Sharma is an Assistant Professor and Director of BIS in Social Entrepreneurship at the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, Georgia State University, USA. Her research focuses on sustainability, social entrepreneurship and related tensions of purpose and profits. She is also interested in understanding how research impacts practice, and the topics of rigor–relevance and knowledge cocreation. Garima’s research has been published or is forthcoming in ‘Academy of Management Journal’, ‘Journal of Business Venturing’, ‘Organizational Research Methods’, ‘Organization Studies’, ‘Journal of Management Inquiry’, ‘Journal of Management Studies’, and ‘Journal of Applied Behavioral Science’.
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