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Academy of Management Learning & Education Special Issue:Learning Through the Paradoxes of Learning

For this special issue, we invite submissions to all of AMLE’s peer-reviewed sections, including Research and Reviews, Essays, and Book and Resource Reviews. We particularly welcome research studies based on extensive data—qualitative or quantitative—using any well-executed and rigorous methodology.

Guest Editors:

  • Marco Berti, University of Technology Sydney (Australia)

  • Camille Pradies, EDHEC Business School (France)

  • Garima Sharma, American University (USA)

  • Miguel Pina e Cunha, Universidade Nova de Lisboa (Portugal)

  • Josh Keller, University of New South Wales (Australia)

  • Simone Carmine, University of Padova (Italy)

  • Clare Rigg, University of Suffolk (UK)

Deadline for Submissions: 29 December 2023

Scheduled for Publication: September 2025

Call for Papers

Individuals, groups, organizations, and societies are constantly facing competing, interdependent demands, also known as paradoxes (Smith & Lewis, 2011; Berti & Cunha, forthcoming). For example, leaders must navigate empowerment and control (Waldman & Bowen, 2016), vulnerability and invulnerability (Pradies et al., 2021a), social and profit goals (Sharma & Bansal, 2017), and leadership and followership (Pradies, Delanghe & Lewis, 2021). Disruptions can make paradoxes even more evident. The need to balance health and economic priorities during the Covid-19 pandemic constituted a novel challenge for nation leaders (Lê & Pradies, forthcoming; Sharma et al., 2021). Grand challenges, such as those arising from global warming and societal inequalities require organizations to embrace competing logics (Berti, 2021), and to navigate business demands alongside environmental and societal needs (Smith & Besharov, 2019; Carmine & De Marchi, 2022). Researchers and managers, situated in contradictory worlds, also must learn from each other, in order to navigate the research-practice divide and address some of these grand challenges facing organizations (Sharma & Bansal, 2020). In such a context, never has it been more relevant to understand how to navigate paradoxes in order to harness their innovation potential (Smith & Lewis, 2011, Lewis & Smith, 2022), and avoiding paralyzing vicious cycles (Berti & Simpson, 2021).

Learning to Navigate Paradox

Paradox scholars have stressed the importance of learning to navigate paradoxical demands. This requires the help of supporting actors, such as HR managers (Pradies, Tunarosa, Lewis & Courtois, 2021b), action researchers (Luescher & Lewis, 2008), academic consultants (Vince & Broussine, 1996), or even peers (Pamphile, 2022). By learning how to navigate paradoxes, actors can transcend a traditional either/or way of thinking to embrace novel, synergistic solutions (Smith, 2014) and hence develop organizational agility, improve individual, team, and organizational performance, and foster innovation (Miron-Spektor et al., 2018).

Paradox scholars have recognized that developing a “paradox mindset”, that is, learning “to value, accept, and feel comfortable wit

h tensions,” seeing them as opportunities (Miron-Spektor et al., 2018: 27) is essential for leaders. Doing so implies a “learning journey” (Jay, 2013: 150), that requires time (Bednarek et al., 2016). Moreover, learning how to navigate paradoxes involves collaboration between researchers and organizational actors (Luescher & Lewis, 2008; Pradies et al., 2021b), in a process that is not exclusively cognitive, but implies emotional engagement (Pradies, 2022). Also, it requires distinguishing between types of tensions such as inherent trade-offs, constructed paradoxes, and dialectic transformations (Berti & Cunha, forthcoming).

Further, paradox research suggests that approaches to paradox are not only individual but also deeply rooted in societal culture, reflecting contrasts in philosophical traditions (Li, 2020; Nisbett et al, 2001). Culture can sh

ape how individuals experience paradox (Keller et al., 2018) and how they approach paradox (Keller et .al, 2017; Leung et al., 2018). This suggests that the paradox learning processes may be qualitatively different across societies. The scholarly literature on organizational paradox is increasingly deeper and broader (for a recent review, see Berti et al., 2021), breaking new ground in original methods of inquiry (Pradies et al., forthcoming) and hence a greater opportunity for innovative pedagogies that build on rigorous insights. However, pedagogy practice and research focused on paradox is lagging behind management research. Noteworthy attempts to develop learning toolboxes on paradox (Lewis & Dehler, 2000; Smith et al., 2012) have yet to foster a robust pipeline of contributions to the management learning literature, with a few exceptions (Vince et .al, 2018; Simpson et al., 2021; Clegg et al., 2022). Paradoxes in Management Learning and Education, and Business Schools

Several paradoxes are relevant in management education both in content, curriculum design, and pedagogical processes. For example, paradoxes emerge from tensions between disciplinary rigor and practical relevance (Clinebell & Clinebell, 2008), and tensions between the need to assess and the need to engage (Dobrow, Smith & Posner, 2011), as well as in the business school mission, as oriented to business or to education (Parker, 1995), or to business and environmental/social impact (Baudoin et al., 2022). These tensions are salient for a number of managerial education topics from business ethics (Berti et al 2021) to positive organizational scholarship (Cunha et al., 2022). They are also highly relevant when addressing questions around assessment, feedback, and delivery mode.

Further, academics face tensions because of their multiple roles, especially between teaching and research (Bennis & O’Toole, 2005). They are constantly challenged by tensions between students as customers (that must be supported, entertained, appeased), students as learners (who must be engaged, inspired, formed), and students as aspirant managers (that need to be assessed/selected/controlled). For example, Jones (2022) documents the paradoxes faced by a department head between efficiency (“putting more bums on seats”) and effectiveness (customized experiences; need to support researchers and avoid teachers’ burnout), indicating the many paradoxes each of us experience in the context of pedagogy and other responsibilities.

As in all paradoxes, managerial education paradoxes are embedded within organizational systems and structures that are, themselves, paradoxical (Jarzabkowski et al., 2013). Specifically, managerial education has long faced institutional pressures to simultaneously address tensions between academic and commercial pursuits, and this permeates the managerial education experience. Embedded within these organizational tensions are other tensions that influence the day-to-day experiences of management educators. All in all, this special issue will advance the previous research on paradoxical tensions recently published in Academy of Management Learning & Education. For example, forthcoming publications note the paradoxes embedded with business schools (Mason, Beech, Mackintosh & Bartunek, 2022; King, Griffin, & Bell, 2021; Rintamaki & Alvesson, 2022), in specific roles such as department heads (Jones, 2022). Other articles point to the paradoxes at the heart of working with managers toward solving wicked problems (Sharma, Greco, Grewatsch & Bansal, 2022).

Management education has a fundamental role to play in processes of learning how to navigate and manage paradox (Gaim et al., 2022), since the capacity to embrace, accept, and feel energized by tensions is essential for effectively coping with complexity (Miron-Spektor et al., 2018). At the same time educators find themselves at the crossroads of many paradoxes that they must navigate to foster learning (Alajoutsijärvi, Juusola & Siltaoja, 2015; Clegg et al., 2022). In this special issue, we invite scholars to reflect both on how we can foster individual and organizational learning to navigate paradoxes, and how we can manage paradoxes of management education.

Illustrative themes / research questions

Submissions to the special issue will draw on paradox theory to address questions on “paradox learning and education” which can provide both original theoretical contributions and have practical impact. This may include:

  • What is the impact of pedagogy on whether and how individuals think, feel, and behave paradoxically, such as whether and how they experience tensions, have a paradox mindset, or engage in paradoxical behaviors? Is the effect of pedagogy maintained over time?

  • What new theories or existing theories from other research streams can help us understand how individuals learn to think and behave paradoxically?

  • How does the learning environment shape the experience and approaches to paradox?

  • What is the influence of paradox-specific content in the learning journeys, and what is its impact on learning processes and outcomes?

  • How does the learning of paradox differ across cultures, institutions, professions, and educational levels? How do learners become aware of the role of power in experiencing and navigating paradoxes? How does this influence their agency in navigating paradoxes? What is the role of emotions in how individuals learn to recognize and navigate paradoxes?

  • How does the learning of paradox influence individuals’ capacity to navigate wicked problems?

Moreover, in relation to the paradoxes of management learning and education:

  • How do business schools navigate tensions between business education and social/environmental education?

  • How do ongoing changes in the educational environment, such as the composition of student bodies or changes in diversity and inclusion policies influence the tensions that institutions and educators experience?

  • How do educators navigate the paradoxes embedded in their day-to-day work, such tensions created by assessments processes, student interactions, relationships with colleagues, and work-life balance, and what implications that holds for paradox theory?

  • How do paradox dynamics inform the inner life of management educators over time?

  • How do educators navigate the tensions between empathy/attachment and professional distance in student-educator relationships?

Submission types

For this special issue, we invite submissions that align with all of AMLE’s peer-reviewed sections, including Research and Reviews, Essays, and Book and & Resource Reviews. We particularly welcome empirical studies based on archival, field, or experimental data that use well-executed and rigorous qualitative or quantitative methodologies. Submissions will be subject to normal editorial decision-making and peer-review processes.


If you would like advice about a possible submission before submitting, please feel free to contact Simone Carmine. In particular, we encourage prospective authors who are interested in submitting Essays as well as Book and Resource Reviews to consult with us about their topic of interest before starting the work on their manuscript. Please note that this consultation is neither a precondition nor a requirement for submission. Authors who have not consulted with the Guest Editor Team are equally welcome to submit. General guidance for all submitting authors.

Submission details

Submit your special issue manuscripts between 15 November 2023 and 29 December 2023 through AMLE’s manuscript central system.

The Guest Editor Team will hold the following idea + Paper Development Workshops in 2023:

PDW - VI Paradox and Plurality Meeting (Lisbon, Portugal), 23 June 2023 (in-person)

  • PDW - EGOS Colloquium (Cagliari, Italy), 5 July 2023 (in-person)

  • PDW – AOM Annual Meeting (Boston, USA), August 2023 (in-person)

  • PDW – PREP (Paradox Research, Education and Practice) Conference, November 2023 (virtual)

We encourage prospective authors to participate in these opportunities and receive feedback on their ideas or proposals. Further details will be made available closer to the dates on the AMLE website and will be distributed through prominent social media channels (e.g., Connect@AOM, LinkedIn, Twitter, and others).


  • Alajoutsijärvi, K., Juusola, K., & Siltaoja, M. (2015). The legitimacy paradox of business schools: Losing by gaining? Academy of Management Learning & Education, 14(2): 277–291.

  • Armstrong, S. J. (2011). From the editors: Continuing our quest for meaningful impact on management practice. Academy of Management Learning & Education, 10(2), 181–187.

  • Baudoin L., Carmine S., van den Broek O. M., Nava L., & Poggioli N. (forthcoming). Imagining a place for sustainability management: An early career manifesto. Journal of Management Studies.

  • Berti, M. (2021). Logic(s) and paradox. In R. Bednarek, M. P. Cunha, J. Schad, & W. K. Smith (eds.). Interdisciplinary Dialogues on Organizational Paradox: Investigating Social Structures and Human Expression, Vol. 73B: 27–47. Bingley, UK: Emerald.

  • Berti, M. & Cunha, M.P. (forthcoming). Paradox, dialectics or trade-offs? A double loop model of paradox. Journal of Management Studies.

  • Berti, M., & Simpson, A. V. (2021). The dark side of organizational paradoxes: The dynamics of disempowerment. Academy of Management Review, 46(2): 252–274.

  • Berti, M., Simpson, A. V., Cunha, M. P., & Clegg, S. R. (2021). Elgar introduction to organizational paradox theory. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.

  • Carmine S., . & De Marchi, V. (2022). Reviewing paradox theory in corporate sustainability toward a systems perspective. Journal of Business Ethics.

  • Clegg, S., Cunha, M. P., Rego, A., & Berti, M. (2021). Speaking truth to power: The academic as jester stimulating management learning. Management Learning, 53(3): 547–565.

  • Clinebell, S. K., & Clinebell, J. M. (2008). The tension in business education between academic rigor and real-world relevance: The role of executive professors. Academy of Management Learning & Education, 7(1), 99–107.

  • Cunha, M.P., Simpson, A.V., Rego, A., & Clegg, S.R (2022). Non-naïve organizational positivity through a generative paradox pedagogy. Management Learning, 53(1): 15–32.

  • Dobrow, S. R., Smith, W. K., & Posner, M. A. (2011). Managing the grading paradox: Leveraging the power of choice in the classroom. Academy of Management Learning & Education, 10(2), 261–276.

  • Dobrow, S. R., Smith, W. K., & Posner, M. A. (2011). Managing the grading paradox: Leveraging the power of choice in the classroom. Academy of Management Learning & Education, 10(2), 261–276.

  • Gaim, M., Clegg, S. R., Cunha M.P., & Berti, M. (2022). Organizational paradox. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

  • Griffin, M., King, D. R., & Reedy, P. (2021). Learning to “Live the Paradox” in a democratic organization: A deliberative approach to paradox mindsets. Academy of Management Learning & Education(in press).

  • Jones, D. R. (2022). An alternative liminal journey of a head of department: The unfolding hysteric tensions, questions & lessons learnt. Academy of Management Learning & Education (In press).

  • Keller, J., Chen, E. W., & Leung, A. K. Y. (2018). How national culture influences individuals’ subjective experience with paradoxical tensions. Cross Cultural & Strategic Management, 25 (3): 443–467.

  • King, D. R., Griffin, M., & Bell, E. (2021). Inclusion and exclusion in management education and learning: a deliberative approach to conferences. Academy of Management Learning & Education (In press).

  • Lê, P., & Pradies, C. (2022). Sailing through the storm: Improvising paradox navigation during a pandemic. Management Learning (In press).

  • Lewis, M. W., & Dehler, G. E. (2000). Learning through paradox: A pedagogical strategy for exploring contradictions and complexity. Journal of Management Education, 24(6): 708–725.

  • Lewis, M. W., & Smith, W. K. (2022). Reflections on the 2021 decade award: Navigating paradox is paradoxical. Academy of Management Review (in press).

  • Li, P. P. (2020). Organizational resilience for a new normal: Balancing the paradox of global interdependence. Management and Organization Review, 16(3), 503–509.

  • Mason, K., Beech, N., Mackintosh, R., & Bartunek, J. (2022). Learning from each other: Why and how business schools need to create a “Paradox Box” for academic-policy impact. Academy of Management Learning and Education (in press).

  • Miron-Spektor, E., Ingram, A., Keller, J., Smith, W. K., & Lewis, M. W. (2018). Microfoundations of organizational paradox: The problem is how we think about the problem. Academy of Management Journal, 61(1): 26–45.

  • Nisbett, R. E., Peng, K., Choi, I., & Norenzayan, A. (2001). Culture and systems of thought: holistic versus analytic cognition. Psychological Review, 108(2), 291.

  • Parola, G., Spiess-Knafl, W., & Thaler, J. (2022). The butterfly effect: How academics’ and practitioners’ micro-practices shape turning points in response to paradox. Academy of Management Learning & Education (In press).

  • Parker, M., & Jary, D. (1995). The Mcuniversity: Organization, management and academic subjectivity. Organization, 2: 319–338.

  • Pradies, C. (2022). With head and heart: How emotions shape paradox navigation in veterinary work. Academy of Management Journal (in press).

  • Pradies, C., Berti, M., Cunha, M. P., Rego, A., Tunarosa, A., & Clegg, S. R. (forthcoming). Paradox and visualization. Unpacking symbols to explore paradox salience for managerial action. Organization Studies.

  • Pradies, C., Carmine, S., Cheal, J., Cunha, M. P., Gaim, M., Keegan, A., Miron-Spektor, E., Nielsen, R. K., Pouthier, V., & Sharma, G. (2021a). The lived experience of paradox: How individuals navigate tensions during the pandemic crisis. Journal of Management Inquiry, 30(2): 154–167.

  • Pradies C, Tunarosa A, Lewis MW, Courtois J. (2021b) From vicious to virtuous paradox dynamics: The social-symbolic work of supporting actors. Organization Studies, 42(8):1241–1263.

  • Pradies, C., Delanghe, M., & Lewis, M. (2020). Paradoxes, leadership and the connecting leader. In Z. Jaser (Ed.), The connecting leader: Serving concurrently as a leader and a follower. Charlotte, NC: IAP 99–129.

  • Rintamäki, J., & Alvesson, M. (2022). Resisting whilst complying? A case study of a power struggle in a business school. Academy of Management Learning & Education (In press).

  • Sharma, G., Greco, A., Grewatsch, S., & Bansal, P. (2022). Cocreating forward: How researchers and managers can address wicked problems together. Academy of Management Learning & Education (In press).

  • Sharma, G., & Bansal, P. (2017). Partners for good: How business and NGOs engage the commercial–social paradox. Organization Studies, 38(3–4): 341–364.

  • Smith, W. K., & Lewis, M. W. (2011). Toward a theory of paradox: A dynamic equilibrium model of organizing. Academy of Management Review, 36(2): 381–403.

  • Smith, W. K., Besharov, M. L., Wessels, A. K., & Chertok, M. (2012). A paradoxical leadership model for social entrepreneurs: Challenges, leadership skills, and pedagogical tools for managing social and commercial demands. Academy of Management Learning & Education, 11(3), 463–478.

  • Vince, R., Abbey, G., Langenhan, M., & Bell, D. (2018). Finding critical action learning through paradox: The role of action learning in the suppression and stimulation of critical reflection. Management Learning, 49(1): 86–106.

  • Waldman, D. A., & Bowen, D. E. (2016). Learning to be a paradox-savvy leader. Academy of Management Perspectives, 30(3): 316–327.


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