Visionary Ambiguity and Strategic Change: The Virtue of Vagueness in Launching Major Organizational Change

Dennis A. Gioia, Rajiv Nag, Kevin Corley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

46 Scopus citations


Can ambiguous vision statements help to initiate strategic change? We draw on organizational and political concepts to make the case that ambiguity in the expression of future aspirations enables a sense of alignment between local and larger organizational goals that eases the political path to successful change. We also explore the paradox that, occasionally, the path out of ambiguity involves the initial injection of even more ambiguity into an already ambiguous situation. In addition, we demonstrate that consideration of a practical problem (how to effectively initiate strategic change) and a nonobvious recommendation (to employ an intentionally ambiguous vision) leads to a deeper exploration of key processes involved in the revision of personal and organizational knowledge.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)364-375
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Management Inquiry
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1 2012



  • ambiguity
  • organizational knowledge
  • strategic change
  • vision statements

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business, Management and Accounting(all)
  • Strategy and Management
  • Management of Technology and Innovation

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