Organizational dialectics

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The classical conception of dialectics is introduced and its applicability and applications in management and organization studies considered. Given its provenance in Hegelian and Marxist thought one might not expect managerialist thinkers to have embraced the central notion of contradictions—one would be mistaken. After considering managerialist accounts of contradictions, which it argues are non-dialectical, this chapter considers how the classical trinity of never-ending unfolding thesis/anti-thesis/synthesis, the result of which forms a new thesis for the endless return of the dialectic and, animated by the central elements of contradiction to the dialectic, might be used in management and organization studies. Instances of positive and negative dialectics are considered before moving to a consideration of gaps and future research, concluding, as is customary, with conclusions.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Oxford Handbook of Organizational Paradox
EditorsWendy K. Smith, Marianne W. Lewis, Paula Jarzabkowski, Ann Langley
PublisherOxford University Press
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Dialectics
  • organizational dialectics
  • contradictions
  • positive dialectics
  • negative dialectics


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