UCL School of Management is delighted to welcome Ella Miron-Spektor,Technion to host a research seminar discussing ‘Paradox mindset and innovation: The problem is how we think about the problem’.
Thriving in increasingly complex and ambiguous environments requires creativity and the capability to reconcile conflicting demands. Although early paradox theory built upon micro-level insights from psychology and philosophy to understand the nature and management of various competing demands, corresponding empirical studies are rare, offering scarce insights into why some individuals thrive with tensions while others struggle. We suggest that a paradox mindset - the extent to which one is accepting of and energized by tensions - can help individuals leverage competing demands to improve job outcomes. People with a paradox mindset embrace tensions as natural and persistent. They appreciate the interwoven nature of competing forces and see tensions as opportunities for growth and learning. Results from a multi-study and multi-method research program identify resource scarcity (i.e., limited time and funding) as a source of tensions and demonstrate the positive impact a paradox mindset has on employee creativity, innovation, and in-role job performance. Individuals with a paradox mindset are more likely to recognize conflicts and engage in integrative complex thinking. Further, a cross-cultural examination reveals differences between Western and East Asian individuals in their approach to conflict and ability to benefit from paradox. Together, these findings contribute to the microfoundations of organizational paradox by exploring individuals’ varied approaches to tensions.