On organizational circularity: vicious and virtuous circles in organizing

Miguel Pina e Cunha, Hari Tsoukas

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


This chapter selectively reviews strands of organizational research informed by the underlying image of the feedback loop, explores different kinds of circularity, and discusses how circularity gives rise to paradoxes in organizations. Organizational circularity expresses better than most organizational processes how managers create realities that develop a dynamic beyond their control, often in surprising and uncontrollable ways. Sometimes these realities are virtuous; other times organizing is built on top of shaky foundations and organizations trap themselves in vicious circles. Circles constitute a preferential observation point from which the complexity of organizing may be viewed. Suggestions for further research are offered.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Oxford Handbook of Organizational Paradox
EditorsWendy K. Smith, Marianne W. Lewis, Paula Jarzabkowski, Ann Langley
PublisherOxford University Press
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • circularity
  • feedback
  • loops
  • vicious circles
  • paradoxes


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