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Long, S. (2019). The Unconscious Won't Go Away—Especially in Organisations. Organ. Soc. Dyn., 19(2):218-229.

(2019). Organizational and Social Dynamics, 19(2):218-229

The Unconscious Won't Go Away—Especially in Organisations

Susan Long

This article traces some of the ways in which the idea of the unconscious has transformed and been adapted from its origins in the eighteenth century to the understanding of organisations in the twenty-first century. Throughout the twentieth century psychoanalysis captured the term through its work with the repressed or dynamic unconscious. While psychoanalysis has often been attacked and has waned in scientific circles, the idea of the unconscious does not seem to go away; it returns in different forms and has continued to evolve since its beginnings. For example, neuroscience talks of “unconscious bias” and has popularised this idea; organisational research looks to the ways in which groups develop cultures with unconscious assumptions; and social psychologists examine social factors that leave societies with blind spots. This article argues that to minimise destructivity and increase creativity, organisations need to be aware of unconscious social processes as they are evidenced nowadays. It ends with stressing some areas where organisations can do this.

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