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The walls within: working with defenses against otherness

Online Conference 5-11 July 2021


Parallel Papers Session 4
Saturday 6 July 1.45pm-3.00 pm, EEST
Paper Code: PP30

Navigating multicultural landscapes: Psychoanalytic approach to team dynamics in post-conflict relocation.

Presenter: Elena Zadorojnaiaa

In the context of escalating globalization and international conflicts, such as the recent conflict in Eastern Europe, companies face the challenge of adapting to new realities of migration and staff relocation. This study focuses on the psychoanalytic examination of team dynamics involving multicultural employees who have relocated from Russia and Ukraine to Portugal due to military conflicts. The aim is to identify critical psychological mechanisms impacting interaction and work efficiency in such teams.

The methodology includes qualitative analysis of data collected through a series of team sessions and individual interviews with employees. The analysis is based on psychoanalytic group dynamics, identity, and intercultural interaction theories. Special attention is given to understanding how teams overcome cultural and psychological barriers and adapt to new social and professional environments.

Key findings indicate that multicultural teams encounter unique psychological challenges, including migration stress, cultural clashes, and the need to restructure group identity. Important factors facilitating successful integration and cooperation include open communication in a safe space, empathy, and flexible leadership. Additionally, psychoanalytic methods, such as reflective sessions, group therapy, and tools like photo matrices, have effectively bridged cultural differences and enhanced mutual understanding within the team.

The study also highlights the presence of employees from both sides of the conflict in some teams, adding layer of complexity to the team dynamics. This aspect sheds light on the nuanced nature of interpersonal and group relations in a politically and culturally sensitive environment.

Conclusions emphasize the significance of the psychoanalytic approach in organizational consulting, particularly in the context of multicultural and transnational team structures. The results offer valuable insights for leaders and HR professionals in managing the dynamics of multicultural teams and open new avenues for further research in this area.

Biographical Summary

Elena Zadorojnaiaa is a psychodynamic organizational consultant at Autodoc with a diverse educational and professional background. She holds a degree in Information Technology (Engineering), a second degree in Journalism, and a master's in Psychoanalytic Business Consulting from the Higher School of Economics, Moscow. With a 12-year tenure as a project manager in an IT company, Elena transitioned into psychoanalytic organizational consulting, where she has been practicing for 2 years. Her dissertation focused on the psychodynamic approach to emotional burnout in IT companies. Elena is deeply interested in team interactions and intercultural communications. She is also the author of "One Way Suitcase: 20 Real Stories from Ukrainian Refugees During the First Days of Russia's Invasion". Originally from Odesa, she relocated to Lisbon after the war, where Autodoc opened an office for Ukrainian and Russian employees, continuing her work in fostering multicultural team dynamics.