Looking at team improvised adaptation through a paradoxical lens: The role of team plasticity

António C.M. Abrantes, Ana M. Passos, Miguel P.e. Cunha, Sílvia A.da Silva

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


When time is of the essence and teams face unexpected contextual changes, they must adapt quickly, sometimes even in real time, that is, they may have to improvise. This paper adopts an inductive approach to explore how teams decide to engage in improvised adaptation, and what happens during those processes for improvisation to be successful. The study analyzes improvisation from the perspective of paradox theory and identifies six paradoxical tensions driven by these contexts: deployment, development, temporal, procedural, structural, and behavioral tensions. We propose a dynamic equilibrium model of team improvised adaptation that leads to team plasticity. By properly managing the paradoxical tensions emerging from the convergence of design and execution, teams become more plastic and able to cope with sudden change. These findings contribute to adaptation and improvisation literatures by delving into the adaptation process under the temporal and material confluence of design and execution.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)88-126
JournalThe Journal of Applied Behavioral Science
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2023


  • paradox theory
  • team adaptation
  • team improvisation
  • team improvised adaptation
  • team plasticity


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