Our aim in this article is to explore and explain the concept of 'negative capability',
in the context of the current resurgence of interest in organizational leadership.
We suggest that negative capability can create an intermediate space that enables
one to continue to think in difficult situations. Where positive capability supports
'decisive action', negative capability supports 'reflective inaction', that is, the
ability to resist dispersing into defensive routines when leading at the limits of
one's knowledge, resources and trust. The development of negative capability is discussed
but it is suggested that its status is problematic in the context of a societal and
organizational culture dominated by control and performativity. The practice of negative
capability is illustrated throughout the article, using a case study of the leadership
of an international joint venture.