Business & Information Systems Engineering

Document Type

Research Paper


In turbulent contexts, organizations face contradictory challenges which give rise to management tensions and paradoxes. Digital transformation is one such context where the disruptive potential of digital technologies demands radical responses from existing organizations. While prior research has recognized the importance of coping with organizational paradoxes, little is known about how to identify them. Although it may be apparent in some settings which paradoxes are at play, other more ambivalent contexts require explicit identification. This study takes a design perspective to identify the relevant paradoxes in a digital transformation context. It presents the results of a 2-year action design research study in collaboration with an organization that chose to explicitly focus on paradoxical tensions for managing its digital transformation. The study’s main contribution is twofold: (1) it presents design knowledge to identify organizational paradoxes; (2) it provides a better understanding of the organizational paradoxes involved in digital transformation. The design knowledge will help others to identify paradoxes when working with an organization and highlights dynamic and collaborative aspects of the identification process. The study also enhances the descriptive understanding of digital transformation paradoxes by showing the importance of learning and belonging tensions and by expressing a different view on what knowledge about paradoxes is, and how it is created and used.