Original Paper

Systemic Practice and Action Research

, Volume 21, Issue 3, pp 211-225

First online:

Janusian Mapping: A Mechanism of Interpretation

  • E. Isaac MostoviczAffiliated withJanus Thinking Ltd. Email author 
  • , Nada K. KakabadseAffiliated withNorthampton Business School, The University of Northampton
  • , Andrew P. KakabadseAffiliated withCranfield School of Management

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In this paper it is argued that human interpretation is an inherently paradoxical and complex mechanism. Human interpretation is underpinned by values, preferences and contrasts, and assumptions, and surfaced through an idiosyncratic combination of personal choice and logic (Pinker, The blank slate: the modern denial of human nature, 2003). In order to find ways through interpretive diversity, Janusian thinking is a conscious and purposeful mechanism (Rothenberg, Creat Res J 9(2–3):207–231, 1996) that allows each one to think paradoxically. Coping with paradoxes is not only a cognitive challenge in trying to resolve the irresolvable but also an emotional one, as emotion might distort the paradox. Janusian attitudinal mapping allows individuals to face the true paradox and to review the assumptions behind it. Such review may modify or even abolish certain assumptions altogether. However, Janusian attitudinal mapping is an emotional undertaking that should follow the three elements involving social reform for advancing and fostering knowledge: shock, open communication and experimentation, and paradox leadership (Lewis, Acad Manage Rev 25(4):760–786, 2000).


Janusian Mapping Paradox Interpretation Distortion