24 Slices
Medium 9781855758162

CHAPTER FOUR: Memory lost and memory found: a reflection on the place of memory in the group relations network and conferences

Karnac Books ePub

Judith Levy

When I began to do the research for this chapter, I was astonished to discover that none of the books I own on organizational theory and practice from the systems-psychodynamic perspective had an entry in their indexes for memory. Although there can be no doubt that psychoanalysis developed from a preoccupation with memory, and although unconscious memory in the form of transference, projection, projec-tive identification, and such is central to our approach to organizational consultancy and group relations, memory in its conscious or semi-conscious aspect and, more particularly, in its social and collective dimension plays a very small part in our thinking about organizations, and, indeed, in our practice of consulting to organizations, including the temporary organizations of group relations conferences. Modern organizations at large, as Sievers (2009, p. 27) has written, “focus primarily on the relatedness of the future to come”. In more cognitive approaches, organizational memory has to do with the retrieval and retention of information from an organization's history (see, for example, Walsh and Ungson, 1991) and, in the group relations world, memory enters into the conferences only in an underground way, through the unconscious. My suggestion in the following discussion is that this absence, like all absences in psychoanalysis, demands attention and exploration. The aim of this paper is to open a space to reflect on the place or absence of memory in organizational existence, an issue that, I believe, involves all aspects of organizational life, from individual performance to organizational culture. My own rather narrow focus will be the special case of the group relations network and conferences and my hypothesis will be that not only are organizational memories lost, but that memory itself and its uses have been denied or repressed. I will suggest that this absence of memory is both part of a broader cultural phenomenon of the late twentieth century and, in the group relations context, perhaps a social defence. It is, then, the aim of this chapter to explore the place of memory in group relations theory and practice, particularly its absence, and to consider the ramifications of that absence.

See All Chapters
Medium 9781855754416

9. The Leader, the Unconscious, and the Management of the Organisation

Karnac Books ePub

9

ANTON OBHOLZER

Leadership would be easy to achieve and manage if it weren’t for the uncomfortable reality that without followership there could be no leadership except perhaps of a delusional sort. What is more, for the organisation to be creative it requires followership to be an active process of participation in the life of the common venture, encompassing all concerned, and this in itself carries with it a degree of discomfort.

By definition there is thus an inherent tension between leadership and followership. This chapter is an attempt to address the complexity of this interface, to place the relationship in the context of the overall containing organisation, and to investigate some of the factors that make for and facilitate a creative versus a stuck workforce and workplace. My overall approach is heavily influenced by a model of understanding and managing organisations that draws on an applied psychoanalytic and Tavistock group relations approach.

I want to note at this point that in many models of leadership and of management, working at understanding one’s experience and the experience of others in connection with management and management competence do not necessarily go together. Further, that the sort of personal work and institutional introspection that goes with the approach to be described here is seen as unnecessary, gratuitous navel gazing. I believe this latter view to be profoundly shortsighted.

See All Chapters
Medium 9781855759794

7: Experiencing, understanding, and dealing with intergroup and institutional conflict

Laurence J Gould Karnac Books ePub

Ross A. Lazar

A Chassidic aforethought
There is the Thought, the Word and the Act … for the man
who gets all three straight within himself, for him all things
will turn towards the Good.

Martin Buber

With this short quote, taken from his wonderful little book Der Weg des Menschen nach der chassidischen Lehre, Martin Buber (1960) epitomizes the source of what he believes to be the “deepest and hardest problem of our lives”— namely, “the true source of conflict between men” (p. 34; emphasis added). He goes on to elaborate that at first we try to explain the appearance of conflict with those motives that are consciously available to us—that is, in those concrete and objective situations and happenings to which both sides are party. We then go on to try to research and analyse the unconscious complexes of which these apparent motives are only symptomatic. Buber states his basic agreement with both these approaches, but he adds that, according to Chassidic teaching, it is the examination not only of singular unitary psychic complications but of the whole person that one must undertake in order to fully understand the conflict. This is not to say that one need not observe each particular psychic phenomenon separately—indeed, one cannot do otherwise—but, rather, that no one factor should be allowed to become too central, nor be used to try to explain everything.

See All Chapters
Medium 9781855759794

2: Theories of experiential learning and the unconscious

Laurence J Gould Karnac Books ePub

Mark Stein

In an age preoccupied by outcomes, the processes of learning are often seen to be of subsidiary interest. As a result, a theory of experiential learning, which focuses principally on processes rather than on outcomes, runs against the current tide of fascination for competence, performance, and anything that can be tightly linked to the products of learning. Prior to the current tide, however, one finds a long history of interest in the idea of experiential learning. The purpose of this chapter, therefore, is to examine a variety of approaches to experiential learning and to locate the group relations or systems psychodynamic approach within it. It begins with an examination of some of the most influential ideas associated with the concept of experiential learning, suggesting a line of intellectual development from one of its earliest incarnations in the writings of Aristotle. Subsequently, a veritable renaissance of interest has occurred since the end of the nineteenth century. This includes William James’s notion of knowledge of acquaintance, Dewey’s work in education, Lewin’s work on organization and community development, Schon’s work on the professions, and Kolb’s idea of the learning cycle, which may all be seen to fall under the aegis of the development of our understanding of experiential learning or practical wisdom.

See All Chapters
Medium 9781855758162

CHAPTER SIX: Institutional abuse: caught between professional vocation and system's efficiency

Karnac Books ePub

Eduardo Acuña and Matías Sanfuentes

Introduction

This chapter analyses the working conditions at a public health geriatric hospital and the distress caused by such conditions to the professionals working there. Such dissatisfaction stems from the abuse of power perceived by health professionals at the hospital and in the Chilean public health system in general. The latter, guided by the principle of maximizing efficiency in health care, imposes a labour regime that dehumanizes and impoverishes working relations. Abuse has devastating effects on mental health, as it causes persistent suffering in workers, fear of the competition existent at the workplace, unhappiness originated by eventual unemployment, and the overall abusive treatment and injustices. Abuse has the peculiarity of subduing health care workers to a collective state of resignation with respect to a hospital's labour conditions and the suffering that emerges from them. Individuals feel they are subjected to overwhelming dynamics that override their capacity to resist and emancipate with a view to changing this situation. Professionals consider that abuse in hospitals is the institutional expression of how public health is practiced in Chile, with the underlying assumption that workers are disciplined in an official, systematic, anonymous, and authoritarian way in order to achieve organizational efficiency.

See All Chapters

See All Slices