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Faculty & Research


The Work Is Alive! Systems Psychodynamics and the Pursuit of Pluralism Without Polarization in Human Relations

Journal Article
This article celebrates the vitality of the systems psychodynamic approach and its potential to humanize organization studies, management practice, and working lives. An approach is a deliberate movement: a way to move closer to, inquire about, and deal with something. The systems psychodynamic approach involves moving closer to organizations and workers through research and educational efforts to study and manage the unconscious dynamics of organizing. It aims to reveal the fears, needs, and wishes that underpin rigid structures and dysfunctions in groups, organizations, and institutions - and to foster more adaptive and functional ways of dealing with those impulses. Advocates refer to this approach as ‘the work’. This article tells the story of the work as the authors understand it. The authors tell it as a life, to highlight the work’s intent and evolution, its struggles and contributions, but mostly to make the point that the work is alive. It is alive as an academic enterprise and it is a way of life. An approach devoted to dismantling defenses, countering authoritarianism, and nurturing development and democracy, the authors argue, is more relevant than ever. And so is what the authors see as the purpose of the work: fostering pluralism without polarization in human relations.

Associate Professor of Organisational Behaviour

Associate Professor of Organisational Behaviour