The clinical paradigm in organisational analysis : with reference to Beamish and Crawford Plc
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There has been much discussion in the literature in the past decade as boards of directors worldwide have faced increasing stakeholder demands for accountability. The conventional wisdom that stakeholders were passive players, who ceded responsibility for the company to the board, has gone and been replaced by a growing sensitivity to the risk of corporate liability. It is still not widely understood that business enterprise is as much a moral act as an economic one. In the 1980's, boardroom behaviour was perceived as unresponsive, mercenary, formal, guarded, ritualistic and legalistic. However, we know little about the culture of these 'managerial elites' (Pettigrew and McNulty, 1995) but one approach is to adopt a psychoanalytic perspective. Psychoanalytic theory is, inter alia, a method of understanding group processes. Bion (1959) and Bridger (1986) postulated that rationality in groups could be compromised by the activity of 'basic assumptions' or unconscious mechanisms that, in turn, can impact upon the formation of the group as a social institution (Fenichel, 1945). The search for deep, underlying structures has been continuously advocated by Geertz (1973), an anthropologist, and the need to distinguish between 'thin' and 'thick' description; the former relating to what is merely observable and the latter to an interpretive, iterative process that seeks out the basic significance of events. The psychoanalytic model, with its premise of not taking for granted what is directly observable, presents an opportunity to examine the power of unconscious group processes in the construction of boardroom decisions. This research aims to demonstrate that the application of clinical concepts to the analysis of boardroom relationships can produce an enriching effect on more traditional theories of organisational functioning.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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