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The walls within: working with defenses against otherness

Online Conference 5-11 July 2021


Organisational consultants, including some who have been informed by the Group Relations tradition, often think about organisations in a simplified way as if all organisations are pretty much the same irrespective of whether, for example, they are public, private or not-for-profit. In my experience this tendency is not so pronounced in the work of those engaged in research into organisational life. In the field of public administration in particular there is a clear appreciation of some of the unique characteristics of organisational life in the public sphere. I will argue that there are very good grounds for both researchers and consultants to preserve the distinction between private and public. In the course of my argument I will examine the political nature of organisations within the public sphere, explore the undeveloped concept of `social anxiety' by linking it to wider social themes of alienation and ambivalence and, finally, draw out some of the implications of all this for the practice of consultancy.'