Andrew Van de Ven, Vernon H. Heath Chair of Organizational Innovation and Change and professor of Strategic Management and Organization, is co-author of the recent study "Managing Contradictions in Organizational Theories and Practices."
Learning to manage contradictions is increasingly important as organizations and their environments become more pluralistic. As organizations become more pluralistic, groups with different yet legitimate strategies, interests, and perspectives come into contact with each other, and theoretical contradictions become experienced ones. This paper argues that managers and management and organization scholars should not only stipulate their own assumptions and objectives, but should also address the opposite plausible positions that their theories imply. It does so through the development of a typology of four approaches to managing organizational contradictions (negation, separation, incorporation, transformation) and their boundary conditions; development of a dialectical process model that examines how the management of contradiction changes over time; and provides a vocabulary for extending a wide range of management concepts and theories.