In search of another Burkean term

Edward Schiappa schiappa at
Wed Jun 19 15:25:16 EST 2002

> Did KB coin the term "strategic ambiguity" or "planned ambiguity"? 

I don't believe KB coined strategic ambiguity, but he certainly pointed
the way.  My suggestions for sources other than KB (I am sure others on
the list with give you lots of KB references):

1) Start with the "ambiguity" entry in the Encyclopedia of Rhetoric
(Ed. Thomas Sloane, Oxford UP, 2001), pp. 21-25.  It provides a solid
overview and a nice introductory bibliography.  

2) I believe "strategic ambiguity" as a specific phrase was introduced in
Eric Eisenberg's "Ambiguity as Strategy in Organizational
Communicationm" Communication Monographs 51 (184): 227-242.

3) Though he does not use this exact phrase, I suggest you read Murray
Edelman's book, Political Language.  He certainly gets at this exact

4) Also note that the phrase has been picked up in discussion of political
policy (especially with regard to the US policies toward China).  Just
type in "strategic ambiguity" into a search engine on the web and you will
see lots of this.

edward schiappa
university of minnesota

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