The Organisation of Disappointment

Annette Clancy

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

Abstract

The aim of this study is to explore the emotion of disappointment in organisations
and to develop a new line of theorising inspired by psychodynamic theory. The
current literature casts disappointment as a negative emotion undermining morale, depressing expectations and justifying inaction and inertia. This only captures part of the complexity of disappointment and leaves unexplored both its impact on the organisation and its potential creativity.
The study presents a theoretical framework derived from research that depicts
disappointment as unfolding in three positions; I am disappointing, I am
disappointed and I disappoint. It asserts the importance of disappointment as an
integrative emotion. The study identifies a contradiction: that at the same time as
being seen as ‘of little concern’ to individuals, there is fear within organisations that disappointment will undermine stability and destroy positive feelings. The study shows how disappointment is connected to, and may help to transform, the dynamics of blame in organisations. Such transformation can be based on an ability to integrate failure and on a development of the relationship between disappointment and learning.
Disappointment represents the loss of the fantasy of stability. When
reconceptualised in this way, disappointment results in a reimagining of possibility. Fantasy and reality are brought into conscious awareness and tolerated rather than extruded. The imaginary ideal organisation can be seen for what it is: a fantasy that can never be realised. The imaginary ideal is mourned and replaced by a more realistic entity. Organisation members’ previous efforts to organise disappointment through blame, shame and extrusion is now recognised as a disappointing strategy.
Understood thus, disappointment is at the very heart of organising as it invites
consideration of the relationship between fantasy and reality. This differentiates it
from other types of social defences which, by their nature defend against thinking
and learning.
LanguageEnglish
QualificationPh.D.
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath
Supervisors/Advisors
  • Vince, Russ, Supervisor
Award date25 May 2012
StatusUnpublished - 24 May 2012

Fingerprint

emotion
social defense
shame
learning
creativity
anxiety
ability
literature

Keywords

  • disappointment
  • emotion in organisation
  • psychoanalysis
  • creativity
  • learning

Cite this

The Organisation of Disappointment. / Clancy, Annette.

2012. 279 p.

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

Clancy, A 2012, 'The Organisation of Disappointment', Ph.D., University of Bath.
Clancy A. The Organisation of Disappointment. 2012. 279 p.
Clancy, Annette. / The Organisation of Disappointment. 2012. 279 p.
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