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Field, G.A. (1974). The Unconscious Organization. Psychoanal. Rev., 61(3):333-354.

(1974). Psychoanalytic Review, 61(3):333-354

The Unconscious Organization

George A. Field, Ph.D.

In this paper I will try to show that there is an organizational unconscious, the locus of the nonrational organizational dynamics, where ideas and feeling unacceptable to the organizational superego or ego are actively repressed below the level of the organizational preconscious. This organizational unconscious, which is more profound and more powerful than is commonly believed by most organizational theorists, exerts a pervasive subliminal influence on organizational policies and actions. I will try to explain why the organizational unconscious exists and how it operates. But first some thoughts on the reasons for the neglect of the unconscious and the nonrational by organizational theorists.

The Etiology Of Supraliminal Approaches

It may be instructive to examine some of the inherent causal factors fostering rationalistic and surface approaches to organizational studies. The most obvious reason for focusing on the rational is that organizations are explicitly intended to serve rational aims, and the nonrational is generally regarded as either incidental or undesirable. Another reason is that the rational elements tend to remain on the surface, where they are evident and observable. But there are other, deeper reasons for our scholarly preoccupation with the “conscious” levels of the organization and our oblivion to most subliminal and hidden facets.

The basic reasons why we largely ignore the hidden levels that harbor the nonrational organizational elements inhere in our American ethos.

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