Paradoxes are intriguing narrative devices, enabling information systems (IS) researchers to develop captivating stories that encapsulate the richness of the emergent socio-technical phenomena they study. However, existing paradox research in IS has been fragmented by incoherency around the meaning of the term ‘paradox’. To help provide greater consistency and clarity, this paper works towards a narratology of paradox in IS. We review the existing IS paradox literature as captured in a sample of 139 publications in IS and related journals. In the first round of analysis, we identify six archetypes of how authors engage with paradoxes: complication, resolution, adaptation, problematisation, explanation, and exaptation. In the second round of analysis, we inductively code the different patterns in which narratives about paradoxes unfold in the existing IS paradox literature. Our framework, when completed, can help aspiring authors of IS paradox papers more clearly articulate their contribution.
Wang, Blair; Ciriello, Raffaele F; and Mathiassen, Lars, "What is paradox in Information Systems research? Towards a narratology" (2023). ACIS 2023 Proceedings. 69.