Employees experience paradoxical tension in their work lives that they effectively manage by practising a paradox mindset or integration. Although the management of paradoxical tension is understood at an individual level, little is known about the downstream effect of employees’ responses to paradoxical tension, especially within a state-owned development finance context, where the government’s developmental agenda and the organisation’s profit motive are in conflict. Few extant studies tend to focus on the relationship between employees’ responses to paradoxical tension and task performance, neglecting organisational citizenship behaviour.
The gap in literature gave rise to the questions: What is an employee’s preferred response when experiencing contradiction between the financial interest of the employer and the developmental objectives of the state/shareholders? What type of response to paradoxical tension best predicts task performance and organisational citizenship behaviour?
Using a combination of vignettes and survey design to examine the relationships in question, the results of structural equation modelling showed that employees preferred integration where negative financial returns were in tension with positive developmental prospects. However, defaulting to integration minimised the chances for improved task performance and organisational citizenship behaviour. Where the paradoxical tension experienced tilted towards positive financial returns and negative developmental prospects, the results demonstrated that a paradox mindset was a prevalent response. In both the scenarios, a paradox mindset had a positive relationship not only with task performance, but organisational citizenship behaviour.
The research offers a novel lens of individual-level responses to paradoxical tension and the support of employees’ responses on job performance. The research further emphasises the importance of context in paradox studies.