Managing paradoxes, dilemmas, and change: a case study to apply the Yin Yang wisdom in Western organizational settings

Rubens Pauluzzo, Marta Guarda, Laura De Pretto, Tony Fang

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    12 Citations (Scopus)
    186 Downloads (Pure)


    Purpose - Drawing on Fang’s (2012) Yin Yang theory of culture while taking up the roadmap proposed by Li (2016) for applying the epistemological system of Yin Yang balancing to complex issues in management research, in general, and to paradoxical issues, in particular, this paper sets out to explore how organizations and individuals in the West can balance cultural paradoxes and manage culture dilemmas through the lens of Yin Yang wisdom.
    Design/methodology/approach - The paper is based on a qualitative case study. Data is gathered through interviews, documents, and field observations in four subsidiaries of an Italian insurance MNC and were analyzed according to the three parameters, i.e., situation, context, and time (Fang, 2012).
    Findings - Our findings show how integrating and learning from seemingly opposite cultures and sets of values lead the organization and individuals to balance cultural paradoxes and manage cultural dilemmas effectively. With regards to situation, we find that both organizations and customers choose the most relevant value(s) to take advantage of during specific events or under certain circumstances, and that different value orientations can coexist. As for context, we show that organizations can adapt their values either through suppression and/or promotion, which can foster individuals to find new balance within the paradox. In terms of time, we show that the process of learning from other cultures over time can play a role in the shifting of people’s and organizations’ choices of attitudes and value orientations.
    Originality/value - The paper suggests the relevance and usefulness of adopting Yin Yang wisdom to uncover the dynamic process of cultural learning in Western scenarios.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalCross Cultural and Strategic Management
    Publication statusPublished - 19 Mar 2018


    • Case study, Yin Yang, Cross-cultural challenge, Cultural paradox, Culture dilemma,


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