Psychoanalytic theory, emotion and organizational paradox

Michael Jarrett, Russ Vince

Research output: Chapter or section in a book/report/conference proceedingChapter or section

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This chapter discusses the psychoanalytic foundations of organizational paradox. It argues that psychoanalytic theories offer a framework for the study of emotions in organizations and for the paradoxical tensions arising from emotions. It develops an analytical framework to discuss three core constructs of psychoanalytic thinking: unconscious emotions; defense mechanisms; and “the analytic attitude,” which is used to gain awareness of unconscious emotions, and as the basis of interventions to balance the contradictions (or paradoxical nature) of defense mechanisms. These constructs manifest in three dimensions of the workplace: among leaders, within groups, and in the organization itself. In the leadership dimension a new concept, the paradox of authority, to describe the tension between internal pulls and external roles that both support and undermine leadership, is introduced. It is shown how psychoanalytic theory can help to comprehend the power relationships embedded in implicit structures and their effects on organizational change.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHandbook of Organizational Paradox
Subtitle of host publicationApproaches to Plurality, Tensions and Contradictions
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages24
ISBN (Print)9780198754428
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2017


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