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Tianyuan Yu, Albert J. Mills and Jean Helms Mills

This chapter proposes a radically different starting point for consideration of the epistemological character of management and organizational history – a Zen-informed approach that is neither wholly Western nor Eastern in the twenty-first century but a way of rethinking knowledge that crosses geopolitical boundaries. The authors start by reconfiguring Burrell and Morgan’s sociological framework, informed by the Zen spirit of non-duality and non-attachment. The proposed ‘global model’ provides an innovative solution to the problem of paradigm incommensurability. They also suggest that the symbolic representation of Zen in management and organization studies is something ‘global’ in contrast to the bipolar, linear, two-dimensional matrices typical in Western theoretical constructions. Accordingly, a Zen approach is a hybrid version or a multi-paradigm approach. The authors use a cross-cultural study of a social phenomenon – the divergent discourses on the Weberian notion of bureaucracy in China and Canada – to explore the potential of a Zen-informed approach.