Aspirational talk or hypocrisy?

A case of espousing dialectical values to facilitate organizational change

  • Ryan Christopher Armstrong University of Barcelona
Keywords: creative tension, organizational learning, aspirational talk, hypocrisy, emotional labor


Peter Senge defined “creative tension” as the distance between a vision of the future and the current reality. But when does this gap drive organizational learning, and when does it result in anti-learning behaviors? This paper argues that deriving benefits from creative tension requires tending to other types of organizational incongruence, namely emotional and word-action incongruences. The paper draws from the founding of a mental health clinic in which all participant aspired to a set of written dialectical values. The paper offers the concept of aspirational labor as a new factor in explaining anti-learning behaviors alongside emotional labor for the individual, and group support and non-judgmental in differentiating hypocrisy from aspirational talk.

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