Agile Organizations: Challenges and Tensions from the Employee Perspective
Paper in proceeding, 2021

Amidst increasingly dynamic and complex environments, new organizational forms deviating from the traditional managerial hierarchy and its underlying principles have emerged. Meanwhile, the agile movement has taken organizations of all types and sizes by storm. What started as a methodology for managing software development projects in a more pragmatic and human-centered way grew into a philosophy shaping the design of entire organizations, and further research on agile organizations is being called for. Viewed through the lens of self-managing organizations, we investigate agile organizations from the dynamic and social perspective of organizing. Drawing on interviews conducted with employees of a Swedish software company, we identify the tension of freedom–clarity as dominant and portray the related challenges employees experience as they navigate the agile organization. We also pinpoint inclusion, proactivity and trust as values agile organizations seem to be built upon, much in line with the thinking of the Agile Manifesto. Finally, we call for further research on new organizational forms from the organizing perspective and offer a refined framework to better reflect the dynamic, intertwined and inherently social nature of the challenges to be experienced within these organizational forms.

agile organization

new organizational forms

organizational tensions

organization design


Constantin Bremer

Chalmers, Technology Management and Economics, Innovation and R&D Management

Anna Rylander Eklund

Chalmers, Technology Management and Economics, Innovation and R&D Management

Maria Elmquist

Chalmers, Technology Management and Economics

Proceedings of the 22nd International CINet Conference

978-90-77360-24-8 (ISBN)

22nd International CINet Conference
Gothenburg, Sweden,

Developing innovation capabilities in the emerging ecosystem of autonomous driving Phase II

VINNOVA (2019-03028), 2019-11-01 -- 2021-10-31.

Subject Categories

Business Administration

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2/3/2022 1