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The walls within: working with defenses against otherness

Online Conference 5-11 July 2021

From Pipes and Dams to Human Connections

This paper tells a story of the regeneration of a government agency responsible for the management of rivers and creeks, drainage and supply of water to the city of Melbourne and extended regions. The setting is an environment of water shortage and extreme weather events such as drought, floods and bushfires. The presentation draws on the findings of a case study undertaken at Melbourne Water using a systems-psychodynamic framework and qualitative action based research designed to investigate the conditions required to engage stakeholders to create effective change. The research was undertaken as part of the completion of a professional doctorate completed in 2010. The case study organisation is in the process of transition, moving from a technical organisation that practises consultation by command and control, to an adaptive organisation that must collaborate, partner, and engage with stakeholders to achieve sustained change.