How organizational actors live out paradoxical tensions through power relations: The case of a youth prison

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Drawing on a critical discursive analysis of qualitative data gathered at a juvenile detention facility, this study explores how organizational actors live out paradoxes through enacting power relations. Based on our analysis, we elaborate a theoretical framework that conceptualizes (1) individual, role-based responses to paradox through which actors construct positions of control and resistance; (2) collective responses to paradox through which organizational members enact these power positions; and (3) the macro-level effects of such dynamics. Our findings demonstrate how micro-level power struggles keep paradoxical tensions in play. Furthermore, our study shows how, ironically, such struggles participate in the macro-level reproduction of the status quo.
Original languageEnglish
JournalOrganizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes
Pages (from-to)55-67
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - 01.11.2019
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors are indebted to Linda Putnam, the other Guest Editors, and four anonymous reviewers for their excellent guidance and outstanding support. In addition, the authors thank Timo Braun, Anja Danner-Schröder, Bob DeFillippi, Moshe Farjoun, Damian Hodgson, Paula Jarzabkowski, Matthias Kipping, Eric Knight, Wendelin Küpers, Ann Langley, Jane Lê, Günther Ortmann, Jonathan Schad, Wendy Smith, and Hari Tsoukas for insightful comments on earlier versions of the manuscript. The authors declared that there is no conflict of interest. This research did not receive any specific grant from funding agencies in the public, commercial, or not-for-profit sectors.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 The Authors

    Research areas

  • Management studies - Paradox, Power, Control–resistance dialectics, Discourse, Prison