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Conflict and Collaboration

A Dualistic (Both/And)

Theory of Organization

Barry Sugarman




How can an ORGanization achieve long-term success, thru several phases of renewal or reinvention i.e. dynamic capability?


It takes many success factors, plus a lot of luck.

Here we highlight the “Both/And" Factor .



There are many examples of dilemmas where an ORG faces an important choice between two directions - both equally necessary but they seem to be incompatible opposites, e.g. formality versus flexibility, the Bureaucratic model or Adhocracy.

But BOTH are needed for sustainable success. 

Is there any escape from this nightmare?

Is it even possible that this challenge can lead to valuable insight into how the right attention to conflict can give a great advantage to an ORG?  


Let's identify some different kinds of these challenges and where they appear. Both/And Challenges appear at different levels of an Org. including: work-team, cross-team, cross-department, whole-org. 

Both/And Challenges 

  • Cost and Quality - Lean management

  • Extending the Life cycle - Ambidextrous management 

  • Short-term / Long-term - Quick results or build capacity

  • Work Team, Granular Level - Collaboration, conflict management



Cost and Quality - Lean management

First the Quality Movement, then Lean Management (from Japan) shows how to get more of BOTH because they feed each other in this new model.  But there is a serious cost - complete reorgan-ization of the entire production process and new thinking . 

New challenges are introduced when the necessary steady flow of production is interrupted by Covid. 

BUTTON to another page -

    From Classic Bureaucracy to HYBRIDS and/or Several Varieties of Adhocracy 


Many ORGs are creating many hybrid forms of structure and process as they struggle for survival and success. They can be arrayed at several points along a path between classic Bureaucracy and tough Adhocracy (with empowerment of lower levels) at opposite ends. 


           Here are the main patterns:


  0) Classic Bureaucratic form. 


  1) Bureaucratic form plus Project Teams & Taskforces , all core staff in units & departments ("home rooms") and traditional "org. chart" pyramid.


   2) Bureaucratic form plus Project Teams & Taskforces  (as in 1 above) plus Top Management Team (TMT).


  3) Mostly Matrix - staff & teams responsible to 2 or 3 bosses.(product, function, region). Full 3-D matrix is tough; may get watered down.


  4) Networked collection of empowered Project Teams & Taskforces, each self-managed, within guidelines, responsible to upper management.

Strategy is broadly set by the center and is emergent from network. Even if center wants major change of direction it may not be implemented.


       4a) Top managers meet but do not take wholistic view for ORG.


       4b) Top managers act as a Top Management Team, caring for the ORG as a whole, not just their own segment, as in (a).


  5) Loosely coupled "organic network". Narrower version of (4) with much more outsourcing (including most production). TMT and central staff  recruit and coordinate large network/s of outsourced suppliers  


        (Options above adapted from Gareth Morgan, ch. 27.) 




An ORG may shift from one of these versions to another as its leaders shift their attention and priorities, as units shift their interrelationships, and as they change the way they address other Both/And challenges. Equilibrium is a passing, partial state but  ORGs with these kinds of Adhocracy can survive (not always) and achieve high levels of performance. 



Let's assume that some Both/And challenges are managed informally by core members of the ORG but other challenges linger, causing problems and frustration. Then managers might get involved. Some ORGs are prepared for this; others have to learn as beginners. This is where the disciplines of ORG learning are needed. And this is where TRUST and the history of human relations in this ORG become crucial factors in facilitating or limiting the possibilities for improvement. How the  ORG is structured can also make a difference, as we shall see.


So What?  A framework for close-up scrutiny


When we want to understand a certain ORG one of the first questions is : 

where does it stand along this range of hybrid options. Then, given the usual basics of business model, markets, history, etc., we can explore the management priorities and challenges that are seen and should be seen. How are they being addressed by managers and others? 


In any of the Adhocracy hybrids there will be no simple story.  So I hope this framework of Both/And Challenges can be helpful and I encourage its use in case studies and beyond.








Paul Carroll, Big Blues: The Unmaking of IBM, NY: Crown,  1993


Louis V. Gerstner, Who Says Elephants Can’t Dance?: Inside IBM’s Historic Turnaround,   NY: Harper, 2002


Gareth Morgan, Creative Organization Theory, London: Sage, 1989.


Richard T. Pascale, Managing on the Edge: How the Smartest Companies Use Conflict to Stay Ahead, NY: Simon & Schuster, 1990.


Michael S. Malone,  Bill and Dave: How Hewlett and Packard Built the World’s Greatest Company NY: Portfolio, 2007.


Barry Sugarman, "Dynamic Capability Seen Through a Duality-Paradox Lens: A Case of Radical Innovation at Microsoft."  in Research in Organizational Change & Development, vol. 22, June 2014 by Emerald. 

                           [ c

For another (more graphic) way to explain this approach see "GOLDEN DUALITIES"

Not viewable on cell phones for now, I regret.

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