Emotions; Humanization; Identity; Institutions; Learning; Organization Theory; Organizational Learning; Systems Psychodynamics;
For over half a century, systems psychodynamic scholars have been ‘sexting’ organization science, in short quips and long form, with mixed reception. This article chronicles their ambivalent relationship and argues that making it closer and more overt would benefit organization theory and organizations.It begins by tracing the history of using science as a cover for an instrumental ideology in organizations and their study. It is a history, the article contends, that is repeating itself with the advance of algorithmic capitalism. The article makes the case for a systems psychodynamic stance as a form of progress and protest, a way to embrace science’s methodical pursuit of truth while countering its dehumanizing potential. Taking this stance, it argues, might lead to more humane organization studies. That is, to more meaningful accounts of, and more useful theories about, the issues facing organizations, organizing, and the organized today. Finally, the article elaborates how systems psychodynamics can help humanize three areas of scholarship – those on identities, leadership, and institutions – and concludes with a call for celebrating, rather than tolerating, subjectivity in organization theory.