HRM operational models and practices to enable strategic agility in PBOs: Managing paradoxical tensions

Ambisisi Ambituuni, Farzaneh Azizsafaei, Anne Keegan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


When project-based organizations (PBOs) pursue strategic agility, they develop increased adaptation capabilities such as improvisation, fluidity and flexibility. However, these capabilities also introduce paradoxical tensions between practices for enabling freedom vs. controlling, practices for combining work desegregation vs segregation, and practices for enabling peripheral vision vs enabling focal vision. In this paper, we set out to identify the HRM operational models and practices developed as responses to paradoxical tensions associated with striving for strategic agility in PBOs. Our paper contributes to literature by showing how HRM is implicated in the management of paradoxical tensions, and also in the dynamic nature of movements of paradoxical tensions arising from the improvisational tendencies of PBOs. We also argue that the role of HRM in sensing the emergence of paradoxical tensions within PBOs, and in managing responses to these tensions under time pressure, is becoming increasingly important for those PBOs aspiring to strategic agility.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)170-182
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Business Research
Early online date8 May 2021
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2021

Bibliographical note

NOTICE: this is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Journal of Business Research. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Journal of Business Research, 133, (2021) DOI: 10.1016/j.jbusres.2021.04.048

© 2021, Elsevier. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial- NoDerivatives 4.0 International


  • Project-based organizations (PBOs)
  • HRM
  • Organizational agility
  • Paradoxical tensions
  • Improvisation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Marketing


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