Home Concepts Organizational Theory Journey to Irony I: The Lands of Alpha and Beta

Journey to Irony I: The Lands of Alpha and Beta

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I wish to bring this set of essays to a close by describing a hypothetical journey. This is not a journey like that undertaken by Dorothy in the Wizard of Ox. There is no Emerald City at the termination. Rather there is a very realistic world—one that is filled with contradiction and dissonance. The destination is a world of irony. The journey I will be taken is more like that taken by Gulliver. As a 21st Century Gulliver, I will be passing through three lands on the way to a land of irony.

The Road Map

To assist us in our Gulliverian travels, I will provide a road map for this journey and will then travel to the four lands. This road map will be drawn around two coordinates. One concerns the amount of contradiction to be found in a specific land. The second coordinate concerns the extent of interdependence among the people living in each land.

Consonance and Dissonance

This entire set of essays has been devoted to the exploration of contradiction. I wish to expand a bit on this notion of contradiction by suggesting that an organization (or society) filled with contradiction might be called a World of Dissonance (borrowing the word introduced by Kurt Lewin and expanded on by his student Leon Festinger and subsequent social-cognitive researchers).

Dissonance reigns when there are many contradictions that are deeply embedded in the minds and hearts of everyone who lives in the world. This is a world of Hard Irony. By contrast, we can look to a world in which there is very little contradiction. This can be labeled a World of Consonance. There is not much disagreement in this world. Everything seems (at least on the surface) to be in alignment.

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