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Paradox Beyond East/West Orthodoxy: The Case of Ubuntu

Interdisciplinary Dialogues on Organizational Paradox: Learning from Belief and Science, Part A

ISBN: 978-1-80117-184-7, eISBN: 978-1-80117-183-0

Publication date: 8 July 2021


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, problematizing 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?




We wish to thank the editors, Rebecca Bednarek and Miguel Cunha, for their comments and helpful suggestions.


Gaim, M. and Clegg, S. (2021), "Paradox Beyond East/West Orthodoxy: The Case of Ubuntu", Bednarek, R., e Cunha, M.P., Schad, J. and Smith, W.K. (Ed.) Interdisciplinary Dialogues on Organizational Paradox: Learning from Belief and Science, Part A (Research in the Sociology of Organizations, Vol. 73a), Emerald Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 29-50.



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