A Paradox-Constitutive Perspective of Organizational Gossip
We review cross-disciplinary research on gossip and integrate it with two streams of theoretical scholarship: paradox theory and the communicative constitution of organization (CCO) perspective. In doing so, we develop what we label a paradox-constitutive perspective of organizational gossip. Our perspective holds that gossip does not merely reflect or reveal organizational paradoxes but contributes to constituting them. Drawing on an extensive narrative literature review (N = 184), we conceptualize organizational gossip as a socially constructed category of interpersonal communication that, paradoxically, is regarded as both an exceptionally reliable and exceptionally unreliable source of social information. In turn, we illustrate how this contradictory view of gossip engenders paradoxical tensions when gossip surfaces in organizational life, and we illuminate two specific tensions to which gossip contributes: resistance-authority tensions and inclusion-exclusion tensions. Our work has important implications for research on organizational gossip, paradox, and communication and suggests intriguing directions for future investigations.