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Paradoxical Relationships in Collaboration, Competition and Innovation: a Critical Systemic Perspective

Bednar, Peter LU and Welch, Christine (2009) WOA2009: The 10th Workshop of Italian scholars on Organization Studies In Workshop of Italian scholars on Organization Studies, 2009 p.1-16
Abstract
This paper seeks to discuss the nature of complex relationships among participants in organizational life, including ways in which paradox and ambiguity in their interactions impact upon organizational performance.

Any relationship emerges and subsists through interaction between people. The nature of a relationship is the result of double description (Bateson, 2002). Each of the parties involved will have perceptions of contextually dependent aspects of their interactions with others, through which behaviour is generated reflecting the concept of ‘relationship’. Bateson points out that the relationship is there first – descriptions emerge from it. Where complex webs of interaction are involved (as in the case of organizational... (More)
This paper seeks to discuss the nature of complex relationships among participants in organizational life, including ways in which paradox and ambiguity in their interactions impact upon organizational performance.

Any relationship emerges and subsists through interaction between people. The nature of a relationship is the result of double description (Bateson, 2002). Each of the parties involved will have perceptions of contextually dependent aspects of their interactions with others, through which behaviour is generated reflecting the concept of ‘relationship’. Bateson points out that the relationship is there first – descriptions emerge from it. Where complex webs of interaction are involved (as in the case of organizational life as it is lived) then multiple levels of description will emerge reflecting inter-individual and inter-group dimensions. As pointed out by Bateson (1972), social interactions can be subject to double bind, in which individual and group descriptions of interactions lead to emergence of negative learning spirals in which participants become entrapped. Where this occurs, emergent behaviour may not be beneficial to individuals or the emergent group. Examples of this can be found in Argyris’ (1990) description of defensive routines which he describes as ‘skilled incompetence’. In order not to cause uncomfortable disturbance to a negotiated equilibrium in organizational relationships (i.e. not rock the boat) people will avoid dealing with problematic issues and allow them, therefore, to remain problematic. At times, a need to protect norms and values of group interaction (what Schein (2004) referred to as organizational culture) has an effect of paralysing organizational actors’ capability to bring about beneficial change. In effect, they have become locked into a “no-win” situation (a double bind). Theories that people espouse to describe their actions and motivations are not what other people can observe to be their theories in use. (Less)
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
organization
publishing date
type
Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceeding
publication status
published
subject
keywords
Organisational Analysis, Complex Inquiry, Contextual Analysis, Critical Systemic Perspective, Paradoxical Relationships, Systems Analysis, Informatics, Information Systems
in
Workshop of Italian scholars on Organization Studies, 2009
pages
16 pages
publisher
Università degli Studi di Cagliari, Sardinia, Italy
conference name
WOA2009: The 10th Workshop of Italian scholars on Organization Studies
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
81c61e6d-8ea8-437a-b4f7-52ffda5f64e3 (old id 1482866)
alternative location
http://www.woa2009.it/papers/Bednar_Welch.pdf
date added to LUP
2009-10-06 10:17:57
date last changed
2016-04-16 09:35:40
@misc{81c61e6d-8ea8-437a-b4f7-52ffda5f64e3,
  abstract     = {This paper seeks to discuss the nature of complex relationships among participants in organizational life, including ways in which paradox and ambiguity in their interactions impact upon organizational performance. <br/><br>
Any relationship emerges and subsists through interaction between people. The nature of a relationship is the result of double description (Bateson, 2002). Each of the parties involved will have perceptions of contextually dependent aspects of their interactions with others, through which behaviour is generated reflecting the concept of ‘relationship’. Bateson points out that the relationship is there first – descriptions emerge from it. Where complex webs of interaction are involved (as in the case of organizational life as it is lived) then multiple levels of description will emerge reflecting inter-individual and inter-group dimensions. As pointed out by Bateson (1972), social interactions can be subject to double bind, in which individual and group descriptions of interactions lead to emergence of negative learning spirals in which participants become entrapped. Where this occurs, emergent behaviour may not be beneficial to individuals or the emergent group. Examples of this can be found in Argyris’ (1990) description of defensive routines which he describes as ‘skilled incompetence’. In order not to cause uncomfortable disturbance to a negotiated equilibrium in organizational relationships (i.e. not rock the boat) people will avoid dealing with problematic issues and allow them, therefore, to remain problematic. At times, a need to protect norms and values of group interaction (what Schein (2004) referred to as organizational culture) has an effect of paralysing organizational actors’ capability to bring about beneficial change. In effect, they have become locked into a “no-win” situation (a double bind). Theories that people espouse to describe their actions and motivations are not what other people can observe to be their theories in use.},
  author       = {Bednar, Peter and Welch, Christine},
  keyword      = {Organisational Analysis,Complex Inquiry,Contextual Analysis,Critical Systemic Perspective,Paradoxical Relationships,Systems Analysis,Informatics,Information Systems},
  language     = {eng},
  pages        = {1--16},
  publisher    = {ARRAY(0x8547368)},
  series       = {Workshop of Italian scholars on Organization Studies, 2009},
  title        = {Paradoxical Relationships in Collaboration, Competition and Innovation: a Critical Systemic Perspective},
  year         = {2009},
}