Paradox beyond east/west orthodoxy: the case of ubuntu

Medhanie Gaim, Stewart Clegg

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


That life is inundated with constant push–pull between contradictory demands is indisputable. Different traditions and worldviews inform individuals’ approaches to dealing with the ensuing paradoxes. However, the literature has focused on Western and Eastern philosophies and traditions, while disregarding others such as the Afrocentric. In this chapter, the authors explore Ubuntu, an Afrocentric tradition, as an alternative philosophical underpinning that can inform the nature of paradoxes. Doing so enriches the understanding, prob-lematizing and managing of paradoxes. Central to Ubuntu is otherness: the emphasis on the need of the other that implies focusing on the other; in doing so, the polarities of diverse needs are accommodated, striving for an ultimate goal of harmony. Moreover, the authors elaborate on the hybrid space where collapsing the East–West and the West and non-west dualism allow engagement with a multiplicity of worldviews. In so doing, the authors expand paradox theorizing beyond the orthodoxy of East and West antinomies and challenge the basic assumption in paradox management by asking the question: what if we start from others’ demands?

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationInterdisciplinary Dialogues on Organizational Paradox
Subtitle of host publicationLearning from Belief and Science, part A
EditorsRebecca Bednarek, Miguel Pina e Cunha, Jonathan Schad, Wendy K. Smith
Place of PublicationBingley
PublisherEmerald Group Holdings Ltd.
Number of pages22
ISBN (Print)978-1-80117-184-7
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Publication series

NameResearch in the Sociology of Organizations
ISSN (Print)0733-558X


  • Afrocentric view
  • Both-anding
  • Either-or
  • Otherness
  • Paradox theory
  • Ubuntu


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