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The walls within: working with defenses against otherness

Online Conference 5-11 July 2021

Organizations, from concepts to constructs: Psychoanalytic theories of character and the meaning of organization

The authors argue that difficulties in defining organizations arise from the fact that organization is not a concept, but a construct. The way different individuals experience organizations depends on their psychological character, a product of their psychological development. The paper develops a psychoanalytic approach which links individual character with experiences of organizations; it is argued that some individuals experience organizations as groups, others as theatres for heroic exploits, yet others as political arenas for deals and compromises. Essentially, different psychological characters construct organizations to accord with their predominant psychological desires, casting themselves as central characters within wish-fulfilling phantasies of what organizations may be. At the end of the article, it is suggested that even academic traditions of organizations may express different stages of character development. Organizations then are not so much approached through a variety of arbitrary though captivating metaphors or images; instead, these images or metaphors are themselves found to be products of wish-fulfilment and phantasy.