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The walls within: working with defenses against otherness

Online Conference 5-11 July 2021


Adaption or Alienation: Exploring Civilizations' Responses to the Polarisation Divide
Panel: Dr Rica Viljoen (chair),Petros Oratis, Ajeet Mathur & Martin Ringer
Sunday 7 July 2024
9.15am-10.30am EEST

Polarisation is ubiquitous in human affairs and underpins a huge amount of discrimination, persecution and conflict. This occurs at many levels; from the intrapersonal, through the interpersonal, into groups and organisations, between groups and organizations and at national and international levels. Civilizations enact their discontent in part through polarisation. Hence, exploring the dynamics of polarisation may help to empower us to act as consultants to ameliorate its consequent negative effects.

A panel presentation will explore these issues on the morning of Sunday July7. During this panel conversation the four panellists will explain the ways that polarisation emerges at all levels in our current world - in the intrapersonal, interpersonal, in-group, intergroup, between elements of societies, in countries and between countries. By considering the social construction of individual and collective identity, polarization can be undermined. Creating a superordinate goal causes movement past the psychological tension in the system that causes polarization. And finally, how can we as consultants take up our authority to help combat polarization in organizations and society.

Short Biographies

Dr Rica Viljoen’s research on inclusivity, which was a significant aspect of her doctoral thesis, gained widespread recognition for its potential impact in the field of Management, Spirituality and Religion. In 2008, the Academy of Management acknowledged her model as one of the ten most promising contributions to the field. Since then, this approach, which emphasises listening to the voices of the entire social system, has been successfully implemented in 42 countries, engaging more than 100000 participants. Due to her contributions, Rica received the prestigious CEO award from the Institute of People Management (IPM), both nationally and internationally. She was further recognised by the South African Board of People Practices for her contribution to the field of study. She is an associate with the Da Vinci School for Business Leadership and Regenesys University. She supervised more than 100 PhDs and Masters Studies.
Apart from her academic endeavours, Rica was the founder member of Mandala Consulting a respected organisation dedicated to organisational development and research. She worked closely with the late dr Don Beck and dr Loraine Laubscher on geo-political trends and their impact on individuals and the organisations they belong to. She established the Centre of Human Emergence: Africa and has become an international recognised thought leader in spiral dynamics and integral research. She serves on the board of the SABPP and the ISPSO. The book Spiral Dynamics In Action is translated in 9 languages. She is a renowned HR Exec and a sought after Jungian and Integral Executive Coach.

Dr. Petros Oratis is an organizational consultant, executive coach and co-founder of The Lateral Space, a consulting practice based in Amsterdam, which primarily focuses on the development of executive and organizational collaboration. He is a tutor and supervisor at the doctoral course “Consultation & the Organisation”, and the Tavistock Qualification in Consultation, at the Tavistock & Portman. He has been a visiting lecturer at the systems-psychodynamic postgraduate course: “Inside Dynamics in Organizations” at Utrecht University. He has been holding member and staff roles at various Group Relations Conferences and is a member of ISPSO and OPUS. Through his doctoral research: “On The Lateral Axis: A systems-psychodynamic study of the lateral relations of collaboration amongst senior leaders in corporate organizations”, he developed a passion for studying lateral dynamics in organizations and society and how authority and power, take new forms inside and outside formal hierarchal structures.

Ajeet Mathur is an Affiliate Life Member of the Indian Psycho-analytic Society and Yoga Shikshak and Karma Sannyasin of the Bihar School of Yoga. He is a member of the Board of Directors of ISPSO. His publications include more than 30 books and over 160 papers in scientific journals and anthologies. He directs Group Relations Conferences in Europe and India. He was Director and CEO of the Institute of Applied Manpower Research. He has served on the Board of Directors with Corporates in India and Europe and with the School of Inter-disciplinary Studies, IGNOU. He is Professor Emeritus, New Delhi Institute of Management and has been Professor of IIMs Ahmedabad and Calcutta, and the EU-Tempus Professor of European Integration and Internationalization. He received his Ph.D. Degree from Indian Institute of Science Bangalore and has held visiting academic appointments at K.U. Leuven, University of California at Berkeley, Aalto University and Tampere University, among others. He has received several national and international honours and awards.

Martin Ringer is an experienced author, presenter and workshop facilitator who has worked extensively in a range of countries and contexts. His work on the dynamics of groups, teams, organizations and communities is widely published. He pays close attention to writing in an accessible and engaging style and seeks to make psychodynamic and socioanalytic ideas accessible to people outside our specialist field. Martin facilitated a PDW on accessible writing as a part of the 2021 Berlin ISPSO AM and co-facilitated similar workshop for the 2022 ISPSO AM. Martin is lead editor of the recently published book “The collective spark: Igniting thinking in groups, teams and the wider World.” For an overview and the first chapter see