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The role of dualities in arbitrating continuity and change in forms of organizing
journal contributionposted on 2007-01-01, 00:00 authored by Fiona Graetz, Aaron Smith
A substantial body of literature on new forms of organizing has forecast the end of bureaucracy. More recent empirical studies, however, indicate that high-performing organizations are adopting dual forms of organizing in which the controllability advantages associated with traditional forms work to complement and support the responsiveness attributes of new forms of organizing. The paradox is that, if organizations discard the key planning, co-ordinating and direction-setting mechanisms of traditional forms of organizing, they also remove the stabilizing dimensions of organizational form that are essential in periods of uncertainty and change. The challenge for organizations lies in learning how to manage the tensions or dualities between traditional and new forms of organizing, a process demanding the arbitration of continuity and change. This paper explores the concept of dualities and its salience in the management of organizing forms. First, the nature of dualities is explained; secondly, a set of characteristics is developed to describe the behaviour of dualities; and thirdly, suggestions are presented for arbitrating the tensions that exist in organizing form dualities. These three contributions are relevant because they signal the route to the effective creation and management of organizing form dualities, the benefit of which is the constructive combination of dynamic capabilities (underpinning innovation and responsiveness, the hallmarks of new forms of organizing) and operational capabilities (underpinning stability and efficiency, the hallmarks of traditional forms of organizing).