Paradox in positive organizational change

By: Kim S. Cameron

Cameron, K.S. (2008). Paradox in positive organizational change. Journal of Applied Behavioral Science, 44, 7-24.


Positive organizational change is a paradox. On one hand, natural human inclinations toward the positive and heliotropic tendencies foster a proclivity toward positive change in human systems. On the other hand, human beings react more strongly to negative than to positive stimuli, so the presence of negative events overshadows positive events. Paradoxically, both tendencies—toward the positive and in response to the negative—are important enablers of positive change, but because the negative usually dominates, positive factors have to be given extra emphasis for positive change to occur. The concept of “positive” has created a great deal of controversy and confusion in organizational studies, spawning critics as well as promoters. The major connotations of this concept in organizational scholarship are clarified, and a way to reconcile the paradox of positive change is proposed. New investigations of positive organizational change are introduced that address various aspects of the positive change paradox.