SITE Paper Development Workshop 'The Folding of Organizational Tensions'


Speaker:Greg Molecke, University of Exeter
Date: Wednesday 5 December 2018
Time: 10:30
Location: Syndicate room B, Building: one

Further details

Organizational tensions are often considered intrinsically binary by nature, yet many represent complex, multipolar tensions that involve multiple stakeholder interests. Only more recently, the literature has acknowledged the complexity of paradoxical tensions whereby actors face sets of interwoven and nested tensions that are not dyadic. However, it is unclear through which mechanisms actors deal with this inherent complexity of paradox. In this paper, we address this gap by studying the question how actors construct bipolar/dyadic tensions from the complexity of a set of multipolar tensions. We conduct an inductive case study of social entrepreneurs and their accounts for social impact. We find that social entrepreneurs discursively reduce the complexity of multiple interwoven and multipolar tensions through the mechanism of folding. Through folding, people temporarily align different actors and their interests with either pole of a binary tension. We identify the underlying rationale and different stages of folding (bracketing, collapsing, and unfolding). As our main contribution, we identify the discursive mechanism through which actors reduce the complexity of interwoven tensions by temporarily forming distinct dyadic tensions. We also show that the mechanism of folding is an interest-based mechanism, which highlights the role of political aspects of responses to tensions, aspects that have been understudied in the literature to date.