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Eisold, K. (2006). Working Below the Surface: The Emotional Life of Contemporary Organizations In The Tavistock Clinic Series. London: Karnac, 2004; 245 pp. edited by C. Huffington, D. Armstrong, W. Halton, L. Hoyle, & J. Pooley. Fort Da, 12(1):97-101.

(2006). Fort Da, 12(1):97-101

Working Below the Surface: The Emotional Life of Contemporary Organizations In The Tavistock Clinic Series. London: Karnac, 2004; 245 pp. edited by C. Huffington, D. Armstrong, W. Halton, L. Hoyle, & J. Pooley

Reviewed by
Kenneth Eisold, Ph.D.

This collection of writings, a collaborative effort by the staff and associates of the Tavistock Consultancy Service (TCS) in London, is the latest in a long line of contributions to the study of organizations coming out of “The Tavistock Tradition,” as it has come to be known, a set of psychoanalytic and dynamic systems concepts and practices that examines the interface between work and the unconscious. That tradition goes back to World War II and its aftermath, when a brilliant group of psychoanalysts and social scientists struggled to develop a means for overcoming the shortages and limitations facing the UK. Such figures as Wilfred Bion, Eric Trist, Harold Bridger, Michael Balint, and Eliot Jaques — forced to think out of the box — came up with methods and theories for understanding the unconscious life of groups and systems that are still proving useful.

“The Tavistock Tradition” sheds light on a number of key issues in organizations: the part played by anxiety and defences against anxiety in work, as a result of which hidden resistances to change infiltrate the workplace; the complex interplay between leaders and followers, determining the effectiveness of leadership; the powerful influence of group membership on individual behavior; the projective processes that demonize some individuals and groups in organizations and idealize others; the importance of work roles in organizing and accomplishing work; and the permeable boundary between persons and the roles they occupy, etc. All these ideas and more are referred to and exemplified in the thinking and the practical work described in this book.

The book is grounded in the work that the TCS has been doing since 1994, when it was founded.

[This is a summary or excerpt from the full text of the book or article. The full text of the document is available to subscribers.]

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