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The Yin-Yang of Management: The Quest for Dynamic Equilibrium

Lewis, M. W. & Smith, W. K. (2014). The Yin-Yang of Management: The Quest for Dynamic Equilibrium. Rotman Management, 2014(Fall), pp. 23-28.


MODERN ORGANIZATIONS inherently contain a wide variety of tensions that leaders must deal with every day: collaboration vs. control, individual vs. collective, flexibility vs. efficiency and profit vs. social responsibility, to name just a few. As environments become more fast paced and competitive, individual leaders’ responses to these tensions are a fundamental determinant of an organization’s fate.

Contingency Theory offers one response to these tensions. Assuming that organizational systems are most effective when they achieve alignment or ‘fit’ amongst internal elements and with the external environment, this approach explores conditions for selecting among competing demands — for example, making choices between exploration and exploitation, and centralized vs. decentralized operations.

In this article we will discuss an alternative approach to handling tensions: the Paradox Perspective explores how organizations can attend to competing demands simultaneously. Although choosing between competing tensions might aid shortterm performance, the Paradox Perspective argues that longterm sustainability requires continuous efforts to meet multiple, divergent demands.

Publication Type: Article
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor > HD28 Management. Industrial Management
Departments: Bayes Business School > Management
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