Scientific article
Open access

Quo vadis, paradox? Centripetal and centrifugal forces in theory development

Published inStrategic Organization, inpress
Publication date2018

Organizations increasingly face contradictory goals, multiple stakeholder expectations, and pluralistic missions that surface and intensify competing demands. Paradox theory offers a lens to understand and engage these tensions. Yet as research adopting a paradox lens continues to grow, scholars warn that its success could advance a dominant logic, which will ultimately hinder conceptual development and result in its downfall. We suggest that scholars can avoid this denigration by embracing theory development's driving forces; centripetal forces that define and buffer a conceptual core and centrifugal forces aimed at challenging the core and extending its boundaries. Although these forces' directions diverge, we depict these dual forces as paradoxical — contradictory and fundamentally interdependent. That is, we explore paradoxical forces of theory development to understand the development of paradox theory. We offer means to use, balance, and leverage these insights to help surface the black boxes in paradox research.

  • Centrifugal forces
  • Centripetal forces
  • Paradox theory
  • Theory development
  • Strategy research
  • Swiss National Science Foundation - 174920
Citation (ISO format)
SCHAD, Jonathan, LEWIS, Marianne W, SMITH, Wendy K. Quo vadis, paradox? Centripetal and centrifugal forces in theory development. In: Strategic Organization, 2018, p. inpress. doi: 10.1177/1476127018786218
Main files (1)
Article (Accepted version)
ISSN of the journal1476-1270

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