Organizational Resilience: A Paradox-Based Conceptualization


  • D.R. Karunaratne



The concept of resilience has recently gained significant popularity in organizational research. It is considered to be a very promising concept for explaining how businesses can survive and develop in the face of adversity or instability.  Past literature focuses on various perspectives of organizational resilience and frameworks mainly based on processes, resources and capabilities. However, a significant amount of these studies have focused on polarized attributes resulting in contradiction of studies which blurs the conceptualization of organizational resilience. The purpose of this study is to address this gap by critically evaluating the phases or dimensions of the organizational resilience process and its contradictions in order to improve the understanding of this complex and embedded construct. Findings in the study reveal that the contradictions which are encountered in different phases of the organizational resilience process are paradoxical tensions.  Paradoxical thinking refers to opposite demands that are contradictory or polarized but are interconnected and such tensions should be managed by both/and approach instead of either/or approach. The anticipation phase consists of opposite tensions of opportunities or threats, the concurrent phase consists of tensions of stability or adaptability, and finally, the reactive phase consists of tensions of growth or performance. Therefore the new framework conceptualizes organizational resilience dimensions to be managed as a paradox to enhance the understanding of the concept of organizational resilience and thereby facilitate its operationalization. The proposed conceptual framework configuration can add to the business and management literature by enhancing the comprehensive conceptualization of organizational resilience.

Keywords: Conceptualization, Dynamic capabilities, Organizational resilience, Paradoxical thinking, Resilience process