The Use of Paradox to Study, Understand, and Develop Scientific Teams
Wooten K. The Use of Paradox to Study, Understand, and Develop Scientific Teams. Oral presentation at 2017 SciTS Conference. Clearwater Beach, FL. Jun 13, 2017. Conceptual and Theoretical Frameworks for Understanding Team Science, Online at: http://www.scienceofteamscience.org/2017-agenda.
Over the last 25 years, paradox has been
a successful framework to the study of all levels of
organization phenomena (Cameron & Quinn, 1988;
Smith & Lewis, 2001; Lewis, 2000; Schad, Lewis, Raish,
& Smith, 2016), including teams. Paradox can be seen
as “contradictory yet interrelated elements – elements
that seem logical in isolation but absurd and irrational
when appearing simultaneously” (Lewis, 2000, p. 760).
The purpose of this paper is to apply the frameworks
established to study paradox to scientific teams,
specifically types of paradox and contextual factors.
Because team science involves collaboration and
integration across different individuals, disciplines,
ideologies, and methodologies, the use of paradoxical
analysis is appropriate.
Methods and Findings: Based on the typology
developed by Schad, Lewis, Raish, and Smith (2016),
team science illustrations relating to common types
of learning, organizing, belonging, and performing
paradoxes are shown in Table 1. Schad, Lewis, Raish, and Smith also have purported the environmental
conditions of plurality vs. competition, change vs.
innovation, and scarcity vs. resource abundance,
and these can be seen in team science, along with
the team science specific conditions such as degree
of disciplinary integration (Rosenfield, 1992) and
stage of transdisciplinary team progress (Hall, Voegel,
Stipleman, & Stokols, 2011). Qualitative and mixed
research methods to study paradox in scientific teams
should be used to help develop a more extensive and
explanatory base. Paradox theory can also be used
as a diagnostic framework for team development to
discover needed individual and team based change
strategies (i.e., working through the paradox) that are
positive in nature (Cameron, 2008).
Table 1. Types of Paradox and Team Science Illustrations
Type Team Science Illustrations
• Exploration vs. exploitation
• Scientific discovery vs. commercialization
• Stability vs. change
• Methodological familiarity vs. adoption or
development of new methods
• Short-term vs. long-term
• Incremental scientific progress vs. scientific
• Alignment vs. flexibility
• Business model vs. scientific method
• Control vs. autonomy/empowerment
• Management science vs. science
• Competing identities Researcher vs. mentor/
• Individual vs. collective
• Team leader vs. team member/follower
• Cooperation vs. competition
• Research agenda of network vs. principle aims of
• Multiple objectives and stakeholders
• Scientific objectives vs. patient/community
Adapted from: Schad J, Lewis MW, Raish S, Smith WK.
Paradox research in management science: Looking back
to move forward. Acad Manag A. 2016; 1-60.
Advancement of SciTS Field: The field of team science
is currently without a common framework to explain
or predict team based conflicts and tensions. Use of a
contextually derived theory of paradox to illustrate how
and when team science tensions are likely to occur is
instrumental to both general theory as well as theory in
Type of Publication:
SciTS 2017 Conference, Presentation, Framework, Understanding team science, conceptual, theoretical
Addresses these goal(s):
- Learn about the field of team science: history, theory and concepts
- Establish or maintain effective team science endeavors
- Conduct research on/evaluate team science
Resource created by Jane Hwang on 10/3/2017 10:01:54 AM.