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The walls within: working with defenses against otherness

Online Conference 5-11 July 2021

Emotion and ressenti in the hyper-modern information processing organization

This paper represents the culmination of a transformation in my own understanding of the relationship between information and emotion in modern organizations. In this paper, I demonstrate that the recent focus and interest in management toward emotions in organizations and towards emotional intelligence are likely to remain as no more than a 'fashion' if we do not clearly identify why emotions were irrelevant in management science and management practices till now. My answer and my focus in this paper are on the ways in which the scientific model of information-processing in the hyper-modern organization confuses speech with information, rationality with reason, power with programming, and feeling with stimulus. As a result, the subject is separated from his or her own body and emotion or feeling, because these have no place and no value within the model. Using the French term ressenti, I suggest that a psychoanalytic approach to organisational research and consultancy can act as a counterbalance to the dominant model. The concept of ressenti, as developed by Denis Vasse and Francoise Dolto from the work of Lacan, describes 'full speech'; that is, where the feeling and talking body and the right word emerge together, often using the path of metaphor. In such moments, the subject's truth appears to be different from scientific truth and managerial rationality. On the basis of this understanding, we have to ask ourselves: How can emotion find a place in hyper-modern organizations? Does emotion create unmanageable disorder? How is it possible to reconcile these two perspectives in the business context? I shall illustrate these themes with examples from a research project in a multi-national firm.