Paradox and the negotiation of tensions in globally distributed work
journal contributionposted on 2020-06-01, 13:13 authored by Jade Brooks, M.N. Ravishankar, Ilan Oshri
Tensions are a major source of communication problems, coordination issues and conflict in globally distributed work (GDW). In this paper we argue that extant literature falls short of addressing tensions in GDW at two levels. First, it fails to fully account for the intrinsic and entrenched nature of tensions in GDW, suggesting instead that they can be resolved or made to disappear. Second, it does not examine the key interactions amongst different kinds of tensions. Drawing on qualitative data from a distributed finance organization and applying concepts from paradox theory, we show how globally distributed units negotiate knowledge, power and identity tensions in collaborative work. The findings illuminate how a sequential enactment of both formal and informal solutions can better address tensions and generate collaborative opportunities in GDW. Building on the findings, we develop a phasal model of tension evolution and management in GDW which explains how tensions evolve from a phase of suppression through to a phase of attenuation. We demonstrate the interactions of knowledge-power-identity tensions against a background of defensive, interactive and collaborative behaviors, and suggest several practical implications for GDW practice.
- Business and Economics
Published inJournal of Information Technology
Pages232 - 250
- AM (Accepted Manuscript)
Rights holder© Association for Information Technology Trust
Publisher statementThis paper was accepted for publication in the journal Journal of Information Technology and the definitive published version is available at https://doi.org/10.1177/0268396220936697. Users who receive access to an article through a repository are reminded that the article is protected by copyright and reuse is restricted to non-commercial and no derivative uses. Users may also download and save a local copy of an article accessed in an institutional repository for the user's personal reference. For permission to reuse an article, please follow our Process for Requesting Permission.