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Henderson, S. (2018). Inside and outside Logic: Realigning the Tavistock Paradigm. Organ. Soc. Dyn., 18(1):78-102.

(2018). Organizational and Social Dynamics, 18(1):78-102

Inside and outside Logic: Realigning the Tavistock Paradigm

Sandy Henderson

The aim of this paper is intentionally broad rather than deep. It proposes a re-shaping of the main building blocks of the Tavistock paradigm based on ideas drawn from complexity theories, neuroscience, Peircean logic and other sources.

It questions the apparent rigidity of the Tavistock paradigm over the last 70 years and asks whether this represents the systems-psychodynamic community attempting to seal itself off from a hyper-turbulent or vortical environment. It argues that, if the Tavistock paradigm is to remain vital, it must realign its “inside” logic with the “outside” logic of that environment.

As a possible means of updating the Tavistock paradigm to reflect developments in other fields, it tentatively proposes a realignment of the concepts of primary task, social defences, basic assumption, the sophisticated group, sentience, containment and the boundary. It also proposes that systems-psychodynamic theory should accord greater prominence to pairings and to our oscillation as social individuals between pairings and groups.

In proposing a means of integrating the Tavistock paradigm with related fields, this paper seeks to open up a boundary zone in which “inside” and “outside” logics can meet so that it becomes permissible to experiment and play with new ideas.

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