How Do Buddhist Monks Frame Conflicts? A Buddhist Approach to Paradox

  • Hee-Chan Song (Sasin Graduate Institute of Business Administration)


Paradox theory proposes that some tensions need not be mitigated, eliminated, or reconciled because organizations can make synergy by keeping them intact. It suggests that to create synergy, people must separate elements of tensions either cognitively or structurally. This separation tactic then allows them to identify hidden interconnectivity among contradicting elements. This study suggests an alternative mechanism to this separation-and-then-integration process, by exploring a Buddhist approach, which has remained largely overlooked by paradox researchers. Empirically, the ethnographer of this study investigated how Buddhist monks cope with tensions, conflicts, and dualities that are all central to Buddhist philosophy, drawing upon a three-month ethnography of a Korean Buddhist temple. Living and working closely with Buddhist monks, the ethnographer reports that Buddhist monks try to reframe tensions by deconstructing cognitive boundaries that unconsciously create tensions in their minds. By theorizing this Buddhist perspective, this study aims to contribute to a micro foundation of the paradox research.

Keywords: ethnography, Buddhism, cognitive boundary, Korean Buddhist temple, paradox theory

How to Cite:

Song, H., (2021) “How Do Buddhist Monks Frame Conflicts? A Buddhist Approach to Paradox”, Negotiation and Conflict Management Research 15(2). doi:



Published on
03 Dec 2021
Peer Reviewed