Systemic Practice and Action Research

, Volume 21, Issue 3, pp 211–225 | Cite as

Janusian Mapping: A Mechanism of Interpretation

  • E. Isaac MostoviczEmail author
  • Nada K. Kakabadse
  • Andrew P. Kakabadse
Original Paper


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 


  1. Aristotle (323 BCE/1926) Politics (Books I–VIII), Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  2. Bridgman PW (1954) Remarks on the present state of operationalism. Sci Mon 79:224–226Google Scholar
  3. Cannon TB (1996) Welcome to the revolution: managing paradox in the 21st century. Pitman, LondonGoogle Scholar
  4. Churchill GA Jr (1979) A paradigm for developing better measures of marketing constructs. J Market Res 16(1):64–74CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Csikszentmihalyi M, Rochberg-Halton E (1982) The meaning of things. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  6. Dubois R (1974) Beast or angel. Scribner, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  7. Fisher R, Shapiro D (2005) Beyond reason: using emotions as you negotiate. Viking, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  8. Flood RL, Jackson MC (1992) Creative problem solving. Total systems intervention. Wiley, ChicesterGoogle Scholar
  9. Ford JD, Ford LW (1994) Logics of identity, contradiction, and attraction in change. Acad Manage Rev 19(4):756–795CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Gassman K (2006) IDEX online research: Tempelsman issues warning to diamond industry, available at: Accessed 2006
  11. Gibson EJ (1970) The ontogeny of reading. Am Psychol 25:136–143CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Harré R (1963) The language of morals. Oxford Paperbacks, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  13. Hegel GWF (Miller AV, trans.) (1806–1975) Phenomenology of mind (Phenomenologie Des Geistes), Oxford University Press, LondonGoogle Scholar
  14. Hinkle D (1965) The change of personal constructs from the point of view of a theory of construct implication (unpublished PhD thesis). Ohio State University, Columbus, OhioGoogle Scholar
  15. Howard AR, Kelly GA (1954) A theoretical approach to psychological movement. J Abnorm Soc Psychol 49:399–404CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Kant I, 1781/1999, Critique of pure reason, Hackett, IndianapolisGoogle Scholar
  17. Kegan R, Lahey LL (2001a) How the way we talk can change the way we work. Jossey Bass, San FranciscoGoogle Scholar
  18. Kegan R, Lahey LL (2001b) The real reason people won’t change. Harv Bus Rev 79(10): 85–92Google Scholar
  19. Kelly G (1955) The psychology of personal constructs. Norton, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  20. Kelly G (1970) A brief introduction to personal construct theory. In: Fransella F (ed) International handbook of personal construct theory, John Wiley and Sons LTD, London, pp 1–29Google Scholar
  21. Kuhn TS (1962) The structure of scientific revolution. University of Chicago Press, ChicagoGoogle Scholar
  22. Landfield AW (1976) Interpretive man: the enlarged self-image, In: Cole JK, Landfield AW (eds) Nebraska symposium on motivation: personal construct psychology, vol 24. University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln, pp 127–177Google Scholar
  23. Leonard-Barton D (1992) Core capabilities and core rigidities: a paradox in managing new product development. Strat Manage J 13(special issue):111–125CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Lewis MW (2000) Exploring paradox: toward a more comprehensive guide. Acad Manage Rev 25(4):760–786CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Marx K (1894/1977) Selected works, vol 1–3. Vantage, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  26. Miller D (1993) The architecture of simplicity. Acad Manage Rev 18:116–138CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Mostovicz I (2006) Unmined potential: how coffee could save the diamond industry. Market Leader 33:18–22Google Scholar
  28. Murnighan JK, Conlon DE (1991) The dynamics of intense work groups: a study of British string quartets. Admin Sci Quarter 36(2):165–186CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Niemeyer RA, Anderson A, Stockton L (2001) Snakes versus ladders: a validation of laddering technique as a measure of hierarchical structure. J Construct Psychol 14(2):85–105CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Nonaka I, Takeuchi H (1995) The knowledge-creating company. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  31. Oppenheimer R (1956) Analogy in science. Am Psychol 11:127–135CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Pattakos A, Covey SR (2004) The prisoners of thought: Viktor Frankl’s principles at work, CA. Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc., San FranciscoGoogle Scholar
  33. Pinker S (2003) The blank slate: the modern denial of human nature. Penguin, LondonGoogle Scholar
  34. Poole MS, van de Ven AH (1989) Using paradox to build management and organisation theories. Acad Manage Rev 14(4):562–578CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Rokeach M (1973) The nature of human values. The Free Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  36. Rothenberg A (1971) The process of Janusian thinking in creativity. Arch Gen Psychiatry 24(3):195–205Google Scholar
  37. Rothenberg A (1979) The emerging goddess: the creative process in art, science and other fields. University of Chicago, Chicago, ILGoogle Scholar
  38. Rothenberg A (1996) The Janusian process in scientific creativity. Creat Res J 9(2–3):207–231CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Rychlak JF (1968) Philosophy of science for personality theory. Houghton-Mifflin, BostonGoogle Scholar
  40. Sainsbury RM (2002) Paradoxes, 2nd edn. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  41. Schneider KJ (1990) The paradoxical self: toward an understanding of our contradictory nature. Insight Books, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  42. Singer JE (1966) Motivation for consistency. In: Feldman S (ed) Cognitive consistency: motivational antecedents and behavioral consequences, Academic Press, New York, pp 47–73Google Scholar
  43. Smith KK, Berg DN (1987) Paradoxes of group life. Jossey-Bass, San Francisco, CAGoogle Scholar
  44. Solomon S, Greenberg J, Pyszczynski T (1999) A dual-process model of defence against conscious and unconscious death-related thoughts: an extension of terror management theory. Psychol Rev 106:835–845CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Vince R, Broussine M (1996) Paradox, defence and attachment: accessing and working with emotions and relations underlying organizational change. Organ Stud 17(1):1–21CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • E. Isaac Mostovicz
    • 1
    Email author
  • Nada K. Kakabadse
    • 2
  • Andrew P. Kakabadse
    • 3
  1. 1.Janus Thinking Ltd.AntwerpBelgium
  2. 2.Northampton Business SchoolThe University of NorthamptonNorthamptonUK
  3. 3.Cranfield School of ManagementCranfieldUK

Personalised recommendations