Organisational Dynamics - Theory

The details
Psychosocial and Psychoanalytic Studies
Colchester Campus
Undergraduate: Level 6
Monday 13 January 2020
Friday 20 March 2020
20 May 2019


Requisites for this module



Key module for

BA LCJ8 Sociology with Psychosocial Studies (Including Placement Year),
BA LJ8C Sociology with Psychosocial Studies (Including Year Abroad),
BA LJC8 Sociology with Psychosocial Studies,
BA C890 Psychosocial and Psychoanalytic Studies,
BA C89A Psychosocial and Psychoanalytic Studies (Including Placement Year),
BA C89B Psychosocial and Psychoanalytic Studies (Including Year Abroad),
BA C89C Psychosocial and Psychoanalytic Studies (Including Foundation Year)

Module description

This module aims to help students understand more fully the conscious and unconscious dynamics in organisations. Beginning with Freud's original and critical work on group psychology we explore the contribution that psychoanalysis and social and organisational psychology have made to our understanding of working and organisational life. Using a primarily psychoanalytic / psychosocial lens, we will consider the ways in which organisational and working life can be pulled too far toward unhelpful technical and procedural practices by powerful unconscious defences operating within and between people and the organisational structures they create.

We will be asking three principal questions. First, how have psychoanalytic and systemic ideas helped to make sense of seemingly irrational organisational phenomena and striven to keep alive the 'human touch' in organisational and group life? Second, what can be put in place to assist in supporting a capacity to face the realities of work more effectively? Third, what can the individual do to improve organisations, help keep them 'on task' and strengthen their potential to develop therapeutic or enabling qualities?

In order to link theory to practice, students will also take part in an experiential workshop in which organisational and group processes can be directly experienced, observed and understood. In particular, as participating observers students can learn how to make sense of both the objective and subjective material as it emerges in relation to the set task.

Module aims

This module aims at helping students understand more fully the conscious and unconscious dynamics in organisations

Module learning outcomes

By the end of the module students will have:
* Developed a greater capacity for psychodynamic observation
* A deeper understanding of organisational dynamics
* The ability to apply psychodynamic insight to a wide range of settings.

Module information

No additional information available.

Learning and teaching methods

Seminar 1 – Students will discuss readings on topics relating to organisational dynamics. There will be a reflective group at the beginning and end of this module. Workshop – Students will take part in a seven-week Group Dynamics workshop.


  • Armstrong, David; French, Robert. (2005) Organization in the mind: psychoanalysis, group relations, and organizational consultancy : occasional papers 1989-2003, London: Karnac. vol. Tavistock Clinic series
  • Hirschhorn, Larry. (c1990) The workplace within: psychodynamics of organizational life, Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press. vol. MIT Press series on organization studies
  • Simpson, Peter; French, Robert. (2005) 'Thoughtful Leadership: Lessons from Bion', in Organizational and Social Dynamics. vol. 5 (1) , pp.280-297
  • French, Robert; Vince, Russ. (1999) Group relations, management, and organization, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Gordon Lawrence, W.; Bain, Alastair; Gould, Laurence J. (1996) 'The fifth basic assumption', in Free Associations. vol. 6 (1) , pp.28-55
  • Lyth, Isabel Menzies. (1988) Containing anxiety in institutions: selected essays, volume 1, London: Free Association.
  • Emmanuel, Louise. (2002) 'Deprivation x 3: The contribution of organisational ‘triple deprivation’ of looked-after children', in Journal of child psychotherapy. vol. 28 (2) , pp.163-179
  • Casemore, Roger; International Consulting Conference. (1994) What makes consultancy work: understanding the dynamics, London: South Bank University Press.
  • Van Buskirk, W. (1999-06-01) 'Organizational Cultures as Holding Environments: A Psychodynamic Look at Organizational Symbolism', in Human Relations. vol. 52 (6) , pp.805-832
  • Klein, Melanie; Heimann, Paula; Money-Kyrle, R. E. (1985, c1977) New directions in psycho-analysis: the significance of infant conflict in the pattern of adult behaviour, London: Maresfield Library. vol. Maresfield reprints
  • Trist, E. L.; Murray, Hugh; Emery, F. E. (1990-1997) The social engagement of social science: a Tavistock anthology, Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.
  • Obholzer, Anton; Roberts, Vega Zagier; Tavistock Clinic "Consulting to Institutions" Workshop. (1994) The Unconscious at work: individual and organizational stress in the human services, London: Routledge.
  • De Board, Robert. (2014) The psychoanalysis of organizations: a psychoanalytic approach to behaviour in groups and organizations, New York: Routledge. vol. Routledge mental health classic editions
  • Freud, Sigmund; Strachey, James; Freud, Anna; Rothgeb, Carrie Lee. (1953-1974) The standard edition of the complete psychological works of Sigmund Freud, London: Hogarth Press and the Institute of Psycho-Analysis.
  • Grint, K. (2005-11-01) 'Problems, problems, problems: The social construction of 'leadership'', in Human Relations. vol. 58 (11) , pp.1467-1494
  • Colman, Arthur D.; Bexton, W. Harold. (c1975) Group relations reader, Sausalito, Calif: GREX. vol. An A.K. Rice series
  • Ward, Adrian. (2003) Therapeutic communities for children and young people, London: Jessica Kingsley. vol. Therapeutic communities
  • Schermer, Victor L.; Pines, Malcolm. (1994) Ring of fire: primitive affects and object relations in group psychotherapy, London: Routledge. vol. International library of group psychotherapy and group process
  • De Board, Robert; dawsonera. (1997) The psychoanalysis of organizations: a psychoanalytic approach to behaviour in groups and organizations, London: Routledge.
  • Hinshelwood, R. D.; Skogstad, Wilhelm. (2000) Observing organisations: anxiety, defence, and culture in health care, London: Routledge.

The above list is indicative of the essential reading for the course. The library makes provision for all reading list items, with digital provision where possible, and these resources are shared between students. Further reading can be obtained from this module's reading list.

Assessment items, weightings and deadlines

Coursework / exam Description Deadline Weighting
Coursework Powerpoint summary - Colchester 20/04/2020 20%
Coursework Powerpoint summary - Southend 20/04/2020 20%
Coursework Essay - Colchester 23/04/2020 80%
Coursework Essay - Southend 23/04/2020 80%

Overall assessment

Coursework Exam
100% 0%


Coursework Exam
100% 0%
Module supervisor and teaching staff
From Department of Psychosocial and Psychoanalytic Studies
Student Administrator, 5A.202, telephone 01206 874969, email



External examiner

Mr Nicholas Stein
University of Derby
Programme Leader MA in Art Therapy
Prof Barry Richards
Bournemouth University
Professor of Political Psychology
Dr Gary Winship
University of Nottingham
Associate Professor
Mr Nicholas Stein
University of Derby
Programme Leader MA in Art Therapy
Dr Gary Winship
University of Nottingham
Associate Professor
Available via Moodle
Of 27 hours, 27 (100%) hours available to students:
0 hours not recorded due to service coverage or fault;
0 hours not recorded due to opt-out by lecturer(s).


Further information

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