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Our tradition

Our tradition
The journal is situated within a tradition that utilises psychoanalytic and psychodynamic perspectives on group relations and their institutional implications. A central idea of this approach is that unconscious emotions become embedded in organizational structures and designs that then defend against the impact of those emotions.

Public reflection on emotions in institutions tends to mobilize prevailing relations of power that seek to avoid, suppress or resist transformation. People in organizations often invest in shared fantasies that help to sustain institutional order; to contain and limit the intensity of emotion within systems, as well as their implications in practice. Thus, ways of feeling, being or relating that are personally or politically expedient hold people together in organizations, and help to define how peoples’ inner worlds are connected to both organizational and institutional systems of conformity or control.

The history and development of this way of thinking is particularly associated with the work of Wilfred Bion (1961) who created a theory of group mentalities (‘basic assumptions’) that described the unconscious processes behind group functioning and dysfunction within a social context. Contemporary thinking is informed by a broader, more interdisciplinary approach, which aims to illuminate the interpenetration of the psyche and the social as a way of understanding complex emotional, relational and political dynamics in organizations and institutions. The work of the Tavistock Institute for Human Relations in London is recognised as the foundational institution for the development and dissemination of psychoanalytic theories of group relations, as well as their implications for organizations. The theory and practice of ‘Institutional Transformation’ was pioneered by the International Forum for Social Innovation in Paris.

While continuing the work of the Tavistock Institute, this approach extended it by moving beyond the explanation and analysis of collective processes to address the socially important question of institutional change and transformation. Since then, this approach has spread around the world and other stakeholders have been pursuing the research on the transformation of organizations in Europe and around the world. It is in this context that Motus fits, developing its own original project, within the framework of the transformation of organizations. The various international organizations that support group relations and transformation of organizations share this common assumption: transformation is real and sustainable whenever we can move beyond rational thought processes. This happens when the emotions experienced during our individual and collective experiences feed our thought.
References Bion, W. (1961). Experiences in Groups. London: Tavistock.
Weick, K. E. (1995). ‘What theory is not, theorizing is’.
Administrative Science Quarterly 40/3: 385-390.