Leadership ignoring paradox to maintain inertial order

Emmanuel A. Mastio, Stewart R. Clegg, Miguel Pina e Cunha, Kenneth Dovey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Paradoxical inertia is an organization condition that has received far less attention than organizational change. We investigate, ethnographically, an Australian Intellectual Property service firm, whose Board members proved to be unable to respond strategically to a rapidly changing environment that threatened their organization’s survival. In the face of discontinuous change, this failure to address the management of paradoxes threatening embedded routines reinforced a paralysing inertia. Extant research has emphasized how managers handle paradox; we discuss how they fail to do so. The inertia is derived from the finessing of tensions as non-issues. Constituted as non-issues there were non-decisions about these tensions that maintained internal stability and harmony; they did so, however, in world of change increasingly disrespectful of internal concerns for ongoing professional stability and harmony. The inability to become collectively and critically aware of the specific forms of inertia undermined recursive learning and thus the transformation of the sensemaking practices of the Board.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)83-101
JournalJournal of Change Management
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2024


  • decision making
  • inertia
  • inertial sensemaking
  • Paradox
  • professional service firms


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