The goblet and two faces

Shiva Kakkar (Indian Institute of Management (IIM), Ahmedabad, India)

The Learning Organization

ISSN: 0969-6474

Publication date: 13 May 2019



Paradox theory looks at ambidexterity as a set of paradoxical yet interrelated demands. A form of response to such paradoxes is transcendence. Currently, there is limited understanding of the concept among researchers. Using concepts from the Indian philosophy of Advaita Vedanta, this paper aims to provide a deeper understanding of transcendence, highlight some of the epistemological challenges it presents and suggest ways in which the concept can be used by practitioners and ambidexterity researchers.


The paper uses concepts and theories from advaitic episteme to look at concepts of paradox and transcendence. The method of adhyaropa–apavada is introduced as a way to help individuals get a transcendental perspective of paradoxes. The application of the method is demonstrated using secondary data from published research on ambidexterity management.


It is postulated that transcendence is an “intuitive experience” born out of reflexive thinking. The dialectic of adhyaropa–apavada (affirmation followed by recension) is suggested as a pedagogical tool that can promote reflexive thinking.


The paper significantly adds to the theoretical understanding of paradoxes and transcendence in ambidexterity literature. The paper also makes a strong pedagogical contribution to literature by suggesting the dialectic of adhyaropa–apavada that can be used by managers to promote reflexive thinking among subordinates when faced with paradoxical situations.



Kakkar, S. (2019), "The goblet and two faces", The Learning Organization, Vol. 26 No. 4, pp. 412-424.

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