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Gold, S. (2006). Are the Basic Assumptions Basic?. Organ. Soc. Dyn., 6(1):86-94.

(2006). Organizational and Social Dynamics, 6(1):86-94

Are the Basic Assumptions Basic?

Stan Gold


We all have to survive in the real world, and the primary need for survival is my theme. Not only survival of the individual in the group, nor yet survival of the new idea in the community or organization, both of which are of great interest, but also the concept of survival in its many disguises, including the biological basis of hatred and aggression in groups and organizations in the service of survival.

I have previously been interested in the varieties of prohibitions against the acquisition of knowledge, especially the phenomenon of scapegoating in the large group (Gold, 2004). Similarly, while there is undoubted value in a recognition of Basic Assumption activity in groups and organizations of all kinds, a concentration on these external phenomena, valid though they may be, may impose defensive limitations on our capacity to think beyond them (Eisold, 2005). For example, I believe the major underlying anxieties are those inherent in a recognition of the preverbal and primitive roots of behaviour, including the creativity and challenge of new ideas. Furthermore, the underlying principle is the need for the individual, the group, and the organization to survive against the forces of nature, competing initially with other species, and, in evolutionary terms, with our fellow man. Further, we navigate on the edge of destruction because of the need not only to survive, but also to evolve.


‘The look of the world's a lie / A face made up o'er graves and fiery depths / and nothings true but what is horrible’ (Beddoes, 2001, p. 108).

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