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The walls within: working with defenses against otherness

Online Conference 5-11 July 2021

Working Across the Tensions: Organisational Role Analysis with Pairs from the Same Organisation

This paper describes a new way of working with the method of Organisational Role Analysis, (ORA). Whereas traditionally ORA has involved work between an individual client and a consultant, this paper reports on work between a consultant and two role holders within the same organisation. The method has been developed as part of an ongoing collaborative action research project in correctional services in Victoria, Australia. It was developed when the researchers were grappling with finding a way for the organisation to work with what appeared to be a quite rigid compartmentalisation and splitting of roles. Given a proposed re-organisation of task in relation to offenders, (viz. the introduction of case management) it was imperative that many roles within the service should communicate and work together across traditional boundaries. New ways of taking up the task had to be found through experience. New working relations were implied, but the question arose as to how these might be developed when the culture usually led to 'like' speaking with 'like' and reinforcing old solutions to old ways of seeing problems. A major outcome of our work with multiple role holders was what we have now termed 'role dialogue'. By role dialogue we mean a process whereby organisational members converse: i) holding their own role and task in mind, ii) while creating enough reflective space to take in, and work with, information about the role and task of the other(s). Our paper will describe this outcome and give examples of how it developed.'