Applicability of Both/and Thinking in International Sustainable Business Studies




business, Methodology, paradoxes, sustainability, Both/and


The purpose of this article is to provide a methodological demonstration making use of the both/and thinking (BAT) framework to perform analysis of intertemporal tensions. The BAT framework as an analytical tool is able to holistically examine complex multi-level business problems that involve tensions, contradictions and paradox that could be useful to others. Engaging the BAT framework in international sustainable business studies can be a challenging choice as it requires holistic understanding of the affects in the separation of contradictory elements across time and distance to shape research inquiry and direction. The approach considers that while paradoxes deal with contradictions, as a methodological process it enables a strategy for juxtaposing apparent opposites using an integrative lens embedded in BAT. As such, the use of BAT is discussed using a constructionist approach to gain insight and understanding on surfacing intertemporal tensions exemplified by the socio-business case study that is situated in the chocolate industry. The article draws on BAT primary and sub-themes and discusses implications and applications as a technique to frame the grappling of tensions. The findings are guided by the existing literature and the analysis from the empirical case study providing contributions in practice to further support the use of the BAT framework. Paradoxes examined in this article are based on affects for the themes of organizing, belonging, performing and learning. This article provides understanding of the findings to gain insight from an empirical and theoretical perspective to illustrate the practical implications of the methodological approach. As such, the principles of paradox theory are placed in the context of the BAT framework which are exemplified by making use of the empirical case study data to surface the potential applicability of the approach for future research. This article aims to contribute to the business and management methodological literature by demonstrating the use of the BAT approach and contributes with specificity in relation to the paradox taxonomy and the use of the BAT framework. Despite certain limitations, the BAT framework can be an excellent choice for qualitative sustainable business research that deals with contradictory demands.

Author Biographies

Juan Marcelo Gómez , Seneca Polytechnic

Professor Juan Marcelo Gómez has research interest in sustainable business development and collaborative trade relationships for understanding how actors make sense of priorities, manage temporal tensions and make decisions.
His doctoral work examined paradoxes and intertemporal tensions. He has published on the topics of food and sustainability, technology, and work-integrated-learning.

Jane McKenzie, Henley Business School – University of Reading

Professor Jane McKenzie has a particular interest in examining the complex problems of business and management through the lens of paradox, knowledge and learning.
She has written four books and many papers. Her most recent book with Professor Jean Bartunek, examines the benefits, tensions and complexities of academic practitioner relationships.