Managing Competing Work Priorities Mindfully: A Multi-Level Investigation of Organizational Paradox and Mindfulness
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Organizations are rife with paradox, or the seemingly contradictory yet interdependent forces that surface across organizational levels (Smith & Lewis, 2011). This dissertation seeks to answer the recent call for greater scholarly attention to the micro-foundation, collective influence, and effective management of organizational paradox (Miron-Spektor et al., 2018; Schad et al., 2016). I conducted two lab experiments (Study 1a and Study 1b) and two field surveys (Study 2 and Study 3) to examine how people think, feel, and behave in paradoxical workplaces individually and collectively. Building upon the burgeoning body of research on mindfulness - the degree to which one brings full attention and awareness to the present in a non-judgmental way (Baer et al., 2006; Brown & Ryan, 2003) – I further explored when, how and why highly mindful individuals and teams could benefit from seeming contradictions. In Study 1a and Study 1b I explore what people think and how they feel when tackling paradoxical demands and the moderating role of trait mindfulness. Results from two experiments (NStudy 1a = 83; NStudy 1b = 100) reveal that mindfulness may foster positive psychological experiences (e.g., higher integrative complexity, fewer interfering thoughts, and maintained calming emotions) in the face of paradox. Study 2 investigates proactive (i.e., job crafting) and destructive workplace behaviours (i.e., withdrawal) in response to organizational paradoxes, as a function of employee mindfulness. By conducting a longitudinal field survey (Nemployee = 201), I find that competing work priorities are associated with more withdrawal, and that high mindfulness may buffer such detrimental effects of paradox. Yet, as they stay on the job, highly mindful employees (versus low mindful employees) make less effort to craft their jobs. Study 3 turns to paradoxical responses in collectives and examines the salutary effect of team mindfulness in managing paradox as a team. Results from a two-wave team-based survey (Nteam = 54) suggest that mindful teams can leverage opposing forces to improve innovation without suffering from relationship conflict. Overall, this dissertation informs not only the paradox and mindfulness scholarship but also practitioners about the peculiar nature of organizational paradox and strategies to leverage competing work priorities.
URI for this recordhttp://hdl.handle.net/1974/26130
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