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Global implications of the indigenous epistemological system from the east: How to apply Yin-Yang balancing to paradox management

Peter Ping Li (Xian Jiaotong-Liverpool University, Suzhou, China AND Copenhagen Business School, Copenhagen, Denmark)

Cross Cultural & Strategic Management

ISSN: 2059-5794

Article publication date: 1 February 2016




The author argues and explains that the indigenous Eastern epistemological system of Yin-Yang balancing should be taken as a novel system or frame of thinking, which is deeply rooted in the indigenous Eastern culture traditions, but it has significant global implications, especially in the domain of paradox management. The purpose of this paper is twofold: first, to provide a detailed elaboration of the indigenous Eastern epistemological system of Yin-Yang balancing in contrast to the Western logic systems; and second, to provide a roadmap for applying the system of Yin-Yang balancing to complex issues in the area of management, in general, and paradoxical issues, in particular.


This is a conceptual paper with a focus on theory-building.


The author elaborates on the indigenous features of Yin-Yang balancing, in contrast to Aristotle’s formal logic and Hegel’s dialectical logic in the West, to further explore the former’s global implications for the increased attention to research on paradox management. In particular, the author posits that Yin-Yang balancing appears to be better suited for paradox management than the more commonly used logics available in the Western literature. Built upon the Yin-Yang balancing, a practical tool of Duality Map for paradox management is proposed.

Research limitations/implications

The system of Yin-Yang balancing proposed in this paper has the potential to embrace logical systems available in the West into a geocentric (East-meeting-West) meta-system. This paper further shows how to apply Yin-Yang balancing with the tool of Duality Map to the most salient paradoxes in the domain of management, including value-profit balance (triple bottom lines), exploration-exploitation balance (ambidexterity), cooperation-competition balance (co-opetition), globalization-localization balance (glocalization), institution-agency balance (institutional entrepreneurship), simultaneously positive and negative attitudes toward an entity (ambivalence), and etic-emic balance (geocentric) across all domains of management research.


The primary challenge for management researchers is to find a way to achieve a geocentric integration between the West and the East at the fundamental level of philosophy. The hope is that the philosophical traditions in the East will facilitate such integration. In particular, the Eastern philosophy of wisdom has a unique capacity to reframe paradox from a negative problem (i.e. a problem of inconsistency to be resolved by dualism in terms of separating opposite elements) to a positive solution (i.e. a solution of completeness or holism to be achieved by duality in terms of partially separating and partially integrating opposite elements).



The author would like to express her deep gratitude to Rosalie Tung, Editor-in-Chief, for her strong support and valuable suggestions for this paper.


Li, P.P. (2016), "Global implications of the indigenous epistemological system from the east: How to apply Yin-Yang balancing to paradox management", Cross Cultural & Strategic Management, Vol. 23 No. 1, pp. 42-77.



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Copyright © 2016, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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