International Security management and the need to embrace paradox

Already in 1951, German scholar John H. Herz introduced the notion of the security dilemma to explain unwanted war through the escalation of security measures between nations. Dilemmas like this increase greatly in a VUCA world. This acronym was introduced and adopted in 1987 by the US Army War College to address the threats of security in the post cold war era. Management scholars and practitioners started also using the term to describe a wider range of environments equally volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous. In a VUCA world, like that of current international security management,  tensions and dilemmas abound. Look at the migration crisis in Europe. Often the dilemma was posed between saving the lives of those trying to find refuge in Europe and the risks of perputating that way the criminal exploitation of refugees on the other side of the Mediterranean. Many other tensions and dilemmas on this case could be given. A theory that is particularly relevant in the context of VUCA is that of paradoxes. Authors like Wendy Smith, Marianne Lewis and Miguel Pina e Cunha explore the idea and the need for leaders to accept, embrace and manage tensions, dilemmas and paradoxes. This requires new ways of looking at leadership. One that is more nuanced, complex and collaborative. We invite security experts and scholars to explore their management challenges from this new paradoxical perspective. Only then we can move away from a world of increased polarization to a world of creative reconciliation.

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