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The Unconscious at Work


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Product Details

Table of Contents

List of figures

About the authors

Foreword by Jonathan Gosling

Preface to the Second Edition


A note on confidentiality

A note about `a Tavistock approach'

Introduction: Making sense of organizations - the institutional roots of the Tavistock approach James Mosse PART I Conceptual framework 1 Some unconscious aspects of organizational life: contributions from psychoanalysis William Halton 2 The dangers of contagion Deirdre Moylan 3 The unconscious at work in groups and teams: contributions from the work of Wilfred Bion Jon Stokes 4 The organization of work: contributions from open systems theory Vega Zagier Roberts 5 Authority, power and leadership: contributions from group relations training Anton Obholzer 6 Changing the stories we are `in': power, purpose and organization-in-the-mind Vega Zagier Roberts PART II The unconscious at work in human service organizations Part IIa Working with people in distress 7 Attending to emotional issues on a special care baby unit Nancy Cohn 8 Containing anxiety in work with damaged children Chris Mawson 9 Fragmentation and integration in a school for children with physical disabilities Anton Obholzer 10 Where angels fear to tread: idealism, despondency and inhibition of thought in hospital nursing Anna Dartington 11 Till death us do part: caring and uncaring in work with older people Vega Zagier Roberts 12 Working with dying people: on being good enough Peter Speck Part IIb Challenges, crises and change 13 The self-assigned impossible task Vega Zagier Roberts 14 Institutional chaos and personal stress Jon Stokes 15 The troublesome individual and the troubled institution Anton Obholzer and Vega Zagier Roberts 16 Finding a voice: differentiation, representation and empowerment in organizations under threat James Mosse and Vega Zagier Roberts 17 Confl ict and collaboration: managing intergroup relations Vega Zagier Roberts 18 Managing social anxieties in public sector organizations Anton Obholzer PART III The unconscious at work in business organizations Kay Trainor (guest editor) 19 Family patterns at work: how casting light on the shadows of the past can enhance leadership in the present Francesca Cardona and Sheila Damon 20 Feelings as data Kay Trainor 21 The myth of rationality: why change efforts so often fail James Krantz and Kay Trainor 22 Navigating roles in complex systems Vega Zagier Roberts 23 Beyond the individual: reframing blame and responsibility for `rogue' behaviour in the fi nancial services industry Ajit Menon 24 From managing to leading organizations in their contexts Matthieu Daum Afterword: Consulting to oneself Appendix: The genealogy of systems psychodynamics Bibliography Index

About the Author

Anton Obholzer, BSc, MB, ChB, DPM, FRCPsych is a psychoanalyst, organizational consultant, and former CEO of the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust. He is a senior member of faculty of the Advanced Management Programme of the INSEAD Global Leadership Centre in Paris. Vega Zagier Roberts, MD is an independent consultant and coach, an associate consultant at Tavistock Consulting, and a faculty member on the Tavistock and Portman NHS Trust master's programme Consulting and Leading in Organisations and doctoral programme Consultation and the Organisation.


"Setting out the basis for the understanding of work in human service organizations, the publication of the original `Unconscious at Work' in 1994 was a landmark event in the field. In this excellent, updated volume, Anton Obholzer and Vega Zagier Roberts have extended the scope of the book to the corporate sector and have produced a volume of outstanding quality. Drawing on a range of experts who take a psychoanalytic view, this volume comprises a series of superb chapters on a wide range of topics. I cannot recommend it too highly."-Mark Stein, Chair in Leadership and Management, School of Business, University of Leicester, UK "An invaluable book in developing my leadership of complex organizations and systems. The book really helped me to build my understanding of the impact of the nature of work and context on people's performance. The book also enhanced my understanding of how basic human experience outside of work define people and teams' reactions to leaders and each other. The research and examples across a range of settings and sectors really help you build change and performance improvement programmes which will have a lasting positive impact."-Fiona Edwards, CEO Surrey and Borders NHS Foundation Trust, UK "We have used this classic and exceptional text to inform the design and delivery of our programmes with managers and leaders in health and social care. It is essential that public service leaders recognize powerful emotional states and work with them. A 2ndedition of this book is timely as organizations struggle to cope, adapt and thrive in complex, ambiguous and uncertain contexts. I recommend this book to anyone who is curious about unconscious processes at work and how understanding these can enhance awareness, effectiveness and performance."Ann Mahon, Professor of Health Leadership, Alliance Manchester Business School, University of Manchester, UK

Reviews for the first edition of The Unconscious at Work: "What makes this book excellent? ...the writing is direct and clear, presenting complex subjects effectively. The abundance of examples is accompanied by intellectual rigor... highly recommended to workers, managers, students and teachers in the human services."-Professional Social Work "As a reminder of the processes that can bring individual work, teams and corporate planning to a grinding halt this book is invaluable."-Probation Journal

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