Mitigating anxiety: The role of strategic leadership groups during radical organisational change

Michael Jarrett, Russ Vince

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (SciVal)
346 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

This article examines the role of strategic leadership groups in radical organisational change. Previous research has focused on how ‘heroic’ individual leaders guide change. In contrast, we argue that strategic leadership groups are indispensable to understanding and supporting radical organisational change. Building on a longitudinal study in a global European company, our research identifies four phases of ‘negotiated order’ that shape group and organisational responses to change. Our findings reveal that strategic leadership groups help manage emotions and understand the shifting authority relations that inevitably arise during periods of change. Drawing upon the psychoanalytic concept of ‘projective identification’, we develop a theoretical framework for understanding the tensions of change. The model shows how emotional coalitions that develop in strategic leadership groups afford a source of political and psychological containment against the anxieties of radical organisational change. These formations offer transitional spaces for change, providing opportunities for progress. The advantage of this new perspective on radical change is that it helps to move the organisation beyond periods of ambivalence and conflict, with positive implications for leadership practice.

Original languageEnglish
JournalHuman Relations
Early online date27 Apr 2023
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 27 Apr 2023

Keywords

  • negotiated order
  • projective identification
  • radical organisational change
  • social defences
  • strategic leadership groups
  • systems psychodynamics
  • top management teams

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • General Social Sciences
  • Strategy and Management
  • Management of Technology and Innovation

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'Mitigating anxiety: The role of strategic leadership groups during radical organisational change'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this