Unified Vision of Management

Towards a Unified Vision of Management Theory and Organisational Development

If ever you find yourself walking along the Business Section in a book shop, or search Business books in Amazon, you may well feel overwhelmed by the choice - each book's author gives the impression that their perspective, analysis or tool is the primary answer.

Here is an Integral Quadrant overview of all the expert perspectives on organizations:


One of the missing pieces in the multi-disciplinary dimensions of Organizational Development (OD), is a map, an overview, or navigation points. This would help in seeing how each of the specialist areas in OD relate to each other.

Integral Theory is one solution to this challenge of integrating perspectives, which includes "The Quadrants", mapping two dialectics i) External (the objective) / Internal (the subjective) and ii) Personal (individual) / Organizational (collective). 

Integral Theory also covers Levels (developmental), Lines (multiple intelligences), States (gross, subtle, causal) and Types (masculine, feminine) - see separate menu Section on Integral Theory. 

Below is an Integral Quadrants map, showing the segmentation of the major disciplines and tools in Organizational Development.


Image - John Oliver, Human-Equity

A quote recommended by Mark Edwards, from Keynes on how ideas and theories impact our World:

The ideas of economists and political philosophers, both when they are right and when they are wrong, are more powerful than is commonly understood … Indeed the world is run by little else. Practical men, who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influences are usually the slaves of some defunct economist . . . It is ideas, not vested interests, which are dangerous for good or evil (Keynes 1936). 

Next Steps in Integral Theory - Meta-theorising

A note of caution has been struck by critical realists, in that Integral Theory may become stuck in simply being an approach in "collecting" perspectives rather than an approach that is open to reorganising itself to accomodate new theories.

Some quotes here below from a book review (published on the INTEGRAL REVIEW October 2011 Vol. 7, No. 2 ) by Jonathan Reams on Mark Edwards' book "Organizational Transformation for Sustainability: An Integral Metatheory" 2010
  • Edwards goes through meanings of concepts, constructs, models, frameworks, theories and paradigms and how they relate to theory (and metatheory) building. Here he is able to show the relationships between 
    • grounded theory building based on case-based research, 
    • middle-range theory building based on variance-based research, and 
    • metatheory building based on conceptual research.
  • Lenses as a metaphor for concepts helps us see the central role that concepts play. In the domains of theories and metatheories, the active aspect of lenses’ functions is often missed. Edwards goes on to say that “a conceptual lens does not merely interpret organizational objects, it is core to the process of constituting those objects” (p. 42). Thus the lenses we work with shape what we create, as well as how we perceive, and metatheorists use these lenses to build their overarching conceptual systems. 
  • Crtiques on meta-theory: Edwards first takes on the modernist critique of metatheory as being 
    • a dead end because of being vague, hard to test, not practical, too concerned with categorization, and philosophical rather than scientific. 
    • metatheory can be used as a tool for totalizing or creating “grand narratives” that marginalize various perspectives, 
    • metatheory tries to take a view from nowhere, or perform the “God trick” of being value neutral. 
    • Further critiques relate to metatheory as being uncritical and decontextualizing.
  • From his analysis and critiques, Edwards then lays out his plan. He describes an eight-phase general research design and method for metatheory building. This includes: 
    • groundwork, 
    • domain specification, 
    • design, 
    • multiparadigm review, 
    • multiparadigm analysis, 
    • metatheory building, 
    • implications, and 
    • evaluation.
  • Edwards describes how he went from 472 explanatory themes from this review and categorized them according to 15 research paradigms. 
  • This leads to the identification of 24 lenses of organizational transformation. 
  • Looking at lens categories, external and internal relationships are examined to create categories of conceptual lenses. These include; holarchy, bipolar, cyclical, relational, standpoint, and multimorphic

Integrating Perspectives and Opposites 
A quote here from Leonard Shlain in Art and Physics :

Dualism p. 239:
The Mobius strip is a visual artifact that silently refutes Aristotle's declaration that extremes cannot be united through an excluded middle. This
ancient doctrine, known as tertium non datur, long a cornerstone of logic,
was first repudiated in the 1400s by Nicholas of Cusa, who created a system
of logic that could join opposites through an excluded middle. Despite his
efforts, the type of thinking prevalent in Western culture has been heavily
dualistic. Beginning in the fifth century в.с., Parmenides divided the world
into being and not being. His pupil Democritus soon followed with the
strict separation of atoms and the void. Both Plato and Aristotle endorsed
either or logic and Christianity incorporated a Manichaean duality in the
doctrine of good and evil and heaven and hell. Later Descartes divided the
"in here" from the "out there and in so doing strongly influenced all
subsequent philosophers and scientists. The dogma central to all these
beliefs that could not get from one extreme to the other by gliding
was one through the middle simply because no middle existed.
Carl Jung lamented thi
western blind spot when he wrote:
" Our Western mind lacking all culture in ths respect, has never yet devised a concept, not even a name for the union of opposites through the middle path, that most fundamental item of inward experience which could respectably be set against the Chinese concept of Tao."

However, the two principal theories of modern physics each contained just such a bridge. Einstein's special theory of relativity and Bohr's theory of complementarity both propose ways in which opposites can be anneled into a seamless alloy with no beginning and no end but just an endless loop
Without the use of logic or equations, Escher, an artist, addressed this
question that had bedeviled Western thinkers for twenty-five hundred years.
His fascination with the problem of uniting opposites through an excluded
middle is most readily seen in his imaginative positive negative wood-block
prints, for example, Sky and
Water I (Figure 16.10). Beginning with the
polar opposites of black and white, his repetitive figures of fish, birds, frogs,
and salamanders undergo a gentle metamorphosis in the center until they
emerge transformed on the other side. With such mute, elegant graphics,
Escher repudiated a linchpin of Western logic established Aristotle
by twenty-three hundred years ago. To paraphrase Aristotle's position, ifA is
a fish andВ is a bird, andA's are notВ's, thenA cannot be В. Escher slides
right through this eitheror dichotomy and his genius his ability to
was fashion prints for the viewer containing complex ideas that could be visualised without the use of equations.