Coping With Paradox: Multistakeholder Learning Dialogue as a Pluralist Sensemaking Process for Addressing Messy Problems

Business and Society 42 (1):7-42 (2003)
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A notable feature of paradox is recognition that seemingly contradictory terms are inextricably intertwined and interrelated—holding out the hope that something new can be learned from the cognitive tension contained within. Aram has characterized the central concern of the business and society field as the paradox of interdependent relations. Our study argues that this and related paradoxes can be addressed by engaging with others and trying to gain shared insight via an interactive, developmental, exploratory sensemaking process that can inform the governance of stakeholder networks. We advocate multistakeholder learning dialogues (MSLDs) as a means for both scholars and practitioners to construct meanings that can guide joint efforts to cope with messy problems that help shape complex, paradoxical relationships within stakeholder networks.



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