While reading Dvoretsky & Yusupov's 'Opening Preparation', a collection of essays by both authors as well as by others, I came across the following definition in an essay by Dolmatov titled 'Inventive Solutions to Intractable Opening Problems'.
I have become interested in a topic which no one before has investigated seriously -- the art of elastic maneuvering. Karpov practices this art excellently, as did Psakhis in his best years; whereas in Kasparov's games (for example) there are only very rare instances of it. Kasparov has always been used to executing concrete plans, whereas positional maneuvering serves no clear-cut purpose except, perhaps, one: it tests the opponent's understanding of absolutely all nuances of the position.
If neither side has any positional advantage (or if it is insufficient to bring tangible results), it is often necessary to maneuver, to move to and fro in what looks like an aimless manner, taking care not to worsen the position of your pieces. When the opponent is unable to stand up to this maneuvering and commits inaccuracies, it is possible to alter the character of the struggle abruptly by tactical means and seize the initiative. [Batsford 1994, p.73]
That particular passage had little to do with the rest of the chapter and was almost an aside. Dolmatov was Kasparov's second during the 1987 and 1990 title matches against Karpov, so he can speak with authority on the styles of both players.
I have also noticed Karpov's tendency to maneuver as Dolmatov describes, particularly against strong grandmasters who are just outside the inner circle of World Championship contenders, but I had never heard this particular term -- 'elastic maneuvering' -- nor any other term that described the technique so precisely. Petrosian was another adept at this style of play. Coming up with examples will take some additional effort, but I'll see what I can do.
For more on the series of books by Dvoretsky & Yusupov, see my previous post (appropriately) titled Dvoretsky & Yusupov.