Psychoanalysis, Organisations, and Communities

Psychoanalysis, Organisations, and Communities

Angela Lacerda Nobre (ESCE-IPS, Portugal)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59140-556-6.ch071
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A psychoanalytical approach to organisations highlights the fact that there are many hidden dimensions to humans’ actions. The possibility of taking those dimensions into account, and of using them and exploring them in a positive and constructive way, is a critical move within current organisational environments, characterised by high levels of complexity. The epistemology of knowledge and philosophy of science pose similar questions in the sense that they search for the sense-making process which legitimises specific theoretical approaches. This process may only be meaningful within a particular context, which in turn corresponds to a concrete community. Communities are not only the external arenas for social interaction, but they represent the identity and the social process through which knowledge is created, used, and shared. However, this bedrock function of communities is so subtle that it is almost invisible, with the consequence that its importance is often not acknowledged, and thus it risks remaining neglected. Psychodynamics focuses on the inner structures which determine not only our actions, but also what we see, take into account, interpret, or take for granted. By gradually making these structures visible and explicit, it is possible to transform them through a developmental process that is characterised by continual reflection in action. Within a psychodynamic approach, both the inner structures and the developmental process are the result of a collective endeavour, as they are based upon specific and concrete relationships; that is, it is a social and relational based approach, both by focusing on current and previous relationships, as well as by co-constructing a new type of relationship with the psychoanalyst. This perspective is critical to the understanding of the fundamental role of communities as the ethos of relationships. If we take a reductionist perspective and state that knowledge is in people’s heads, then we fail to take into account the critical issue of how it got there, and thus neglect the central importance of communities within an organisational setting. When knowledge management stresses the distinction between tacit and explicit knowledge (Nonaka & Takeuchi, 1995), or when organisational learning focuses on double-loop learning processes as the need to question our deep held assumptions (Argyris, 1992; Argyris & Schon, 1978), both areas are highlighting the crucial issue of dealing both with the superficial and with the deep aspects of organisational life, with the visible and the invisible, the obvious and that which is subtle and volatile, the individual and the social, and the inner and the outer worlds.

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